Director/co-writer John Stuart Wildman’s highly entertaining debut feature, “The Ladies of the House,” a “feminist grindhouse thriller,” is so riotously over the top that “the top” recedes like earth from the window of a speeding spaceship.
Jacob (Gabriel Horn), protective of his large but simple brother Kai (RJ Hanson), teams up with their friend Derek (Samrat Chakrabarti) to celebrate Kai’s birthday at a seedy strip club. But with Kai obviously uncomfortable, the three make an early exit. Outside Derek spots a lovely young dancer, Ginger (Michelle “Belladonna” Sinclair), leaving work and aggressively suggests they follow her, overcoming Jacob’s decency, resistance and sarcasm (“Are strippers ok with stalking?”).
Approaching Ginger (stripper name, Wasabi) at her front door, Derek proposes that they all go in and party, with the friends providing tequila and pot. And this being a genre film, she puts aside her misgivings and invites them in. The friends are unaware that they’ve entered the home of a quartet of fine young cannibals. Things go from disaster to dinner.
Ginger is shot by Derek, a mistake of massively misguided self-defense. Her roommates, also dancers at the club, Lin, the owner of the house (Farah White), her lover, Getty (Melodie Sisk), sporting the smokiest of smoky eyes, and beautiful, childlike Crystal (Brina Palencia) return from work, take action to avenge their friend, secure their home and serve the evening meal.
Co-written by Justina Walford, the story unfolds with the requisite shockers and gross-outs, but also with plenty of pleasures in the details: the homey, color-drenched sets; the clever costumes (the women, surprisingly all brunettes, choose pin-up attire for ’round-the-house wear); the inventive cinematography by Beau Ethridge (using a Canon 5D), including you-are-there, jangly shots of Kai being tasered; effectively creepy sound design. And “Ladies of the House” is often (intentionally) funny. Lin to Jacob splayed out, tied to Crystal’s bed, “What you eat and how you eat it says a lot about you. What’s in a burger? What’s in a hot dog, really?”
Wildman and Walford cite classics (Takashi Miike’s “Audition,” Park Chan-wook’s “Old Boy,” Tobe Hooper’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) as influences but like the best of genre films, their “Ladies” is sui generis.
“The Ladies of the House” is now available nationwide on demand and on iTunes: