Three Imaginary Girls

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{In the House opened in Seattle on Friday, 5/17, and is screening at the Landmark Seven Gables Theatre}

In the House is the latest thriller from atmospheric maestro François Ozon, and while it’s a bit more subtle than Swimming Pool or Hideaway, manohman does it deliver on the chills.

Bored literature teacher Germain (Fabrice Luchini) finds interest and inspiration in a new Freshman’s fictional story, but when he confronts the boy, Claude, about it, he admits it’s based in reality, and is about his friend Rapha’s family. The startled professor initially gives Claude a hard time about it, but then encourages him to continue for the sake of the story, offering to help the boy develop his literary gift.

As each page rolls in, Germain and his wife, Jeanne, (Kristin Scott Thomas) read them out loud and become more and more engrossed in the story—even as it gets more and more disturbing. Knowing he’s got them hooked, Claude plays along by ending the pages with “to be continued…”

Ozon cloaks the scenes with Claude and Rapha’s family in heavy suspense (complete with tinkly thriller music) so you never know if what the Germains are reading is true or not. You’re never sure what Claude’s intentions are—only that they’re somewhat sinister. And as Germain and Jeanne fall deeper and deeper under his spell, you can only watch—and wait. And wait. And wait … to see what happens.

The whole film has an unsettling, voyeuristic effect. Just what you want in a thriller, and definitely worth your (non-SIFF) dollars this weekend.