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'Granny's House' feels stiff and stilted

'Granny's House' feels stiff and stilted
A scene from "At Granny's House." (Vagabond Entertainment)

Not to be confused with M. Night Shyamalan's "The Visit," "At Granny's House" actually involves the increasingly dependent widow Marion (Glenda Morgan Brown) and her live-in sitter, Rebecca (Rachel Alig).

It begins with Marion and Rebecca playing mahjongg with their golden girlfriends while a tousled man (writer-director Les Mahoney) in shackles sits in the attic. In flashback, Marion reluctantly accepts Rebecca's services at the insistence of her adult son (Bryant Watts). As Marion finally warms to her, Rebecca proposes that they seek some thrills by listing the spare room in the house on MyFreeBed.com and inviting random houseguests over. As they reel in a parade of visitors, Rebecca serves up embalming fluid injections to the ones who rudely twiddle on cellphones in their company.

Seemingly meant for the stage, the film feels unnaturally theatrical with characters stiltedly reciting each line of dialogue even when supposedly conversing. But with Mahoney's pedestrian, shot-reverse-shot direction, these scenes play out like situational skits from an instructional video made for ESL students. Even all the nudity and sex scenes register as clinical.

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Since it doesn't bother explaining Marion's complicity in Rebecca's misdeeds, the film gets interesting only when private investigator Lavrans Boarstag (Bill Oberst Jr.) shows up to inquire about one of their missing guests.

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"At Granny's House."

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes.

Playing: At Arena Cinema, Hollywood.

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