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Just Say No

The House of Yes
Wren Maloney

House of Horrors: Tori Spelling (left) and Josh Hamilton visit Parker Posey.

'The House of Yes' errs in putting the burden of morality on Tori Spelling

By Richard von Busack

DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER Mark Waters' The House of Yes is as Pascal described life: a comedy with a bloody finish. The film tells a variant of the Old Dark House story. The deranged, spoiled Jackie-O (Parker Posey) is the most volatile member of a family of wealthy weirdos. She's set off the deep end by the arrival of her long lost brother, Marty (Josh Hamilton), and his fiancée, Leslie (Tori Spelling), who have come for a Thanksgiving dinner. This get-together arrives at the same time as a hurricane, which cuts the power to their mansion.

I've never seen Spelling on her television show, but her reputation as an actress precedes her, and she certainly lives down to that reputation in full. Spelling must act as the moral center of the play--as a virtuous, dumb girl who doesn't realize she's dealing with serious decadents. Spelling is far outclassed by Posey, devastating and full of sin in a Marlo Thomas hairdo and a pink pillbox hat. And Genevieve Bujold provides much dirty fun as the Transylvanian-accented mother of the family. She has a quip about how she doesn't know for sure the parentage of her children, since it was her custom to give herself "to the first man who had a new adjective for me." Despite lines like that, the film is stage-bound. After flirting with immorality and a deliberate snobbishness, The House of Yes declares itself strongly on the side of right and monogamy, just like the respectable farce it is. (The problem may be that it's tiresome to have a weakling performer like Spelling defending both right and wrong.) Still, Posey's drawling reading of a phrase like "I went to a lot of trouble to get sane for you" almost makes The House of Yes worth recommending--when it's on video, that is.

The House of Yes (R; 90 min.), directed and written by Mark Waters, based on the play by Wendy MacLeod, photographed by Michael Spiller and starring Parker Posey, Josh Hamilton and Tori Spelling.

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From the Oct. 23-29, 1997 issue of Metro.

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