Color, 1997, 85 mins.

Directed by Mark S. Waters

Starring Parker Posey, Josh Hamilton, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Genevieve Bujold, Tori Spelling / Music by Rolfe Kent / Cinematography by Michael Stiller

Format: DVD - Miramax (MSRP $29.98)

Letterboxed (1.85:1) / Dolby Digital 2.0

Packed with more quotable dialogue than virtually any other '90s film (and yes, that includes Kevin Smith), The House of Yes faithfully adapts Wendy MacLeod's acerbic black comedy to celluloid without losing an ounce of its disturbing wit. Designed primarily as a showcase for Parker Posey (in her best role), the film actually improves with repeated viewings, though its appeal obviously will not extend to everyone.

On a dark and stormy Thanksgiving night, Marty (Josh Hamilton), a seemingly norman all-American guy, brings his fiancee, Lesly (Tori Spelling -- yes, that Tori Spelling), to visit his family in New England. Marty's sister, Jackie-O (Posey), has just been released from a stay in a mental institution, while her mother (Genevieve Bujold) and younger brother, Anthony (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) are hardly more stable. Over the course of the evening, the power goes out and various nasty family secrets rise to the surface. Jackie-O has been obsessed with the Kennedy family since her father walked out on the day of JFK's assassination; thus, she has a propensity for acting out the President's death in a strange incestuous game which may or may not involve real bullets. And that's just the beginning...

The most obvious strength of House of Yes lies in its cast, which is uniformly excellent. It's great to see Bujold back on the screen again, and she gets some of the funniest lines. Even Spelling, wisely cast as a giggly blonde, pulls of her role with surprising skill, weaving through the tricky dialogue like a pro. Though not cinematically audacious, the film looks and sounds terrific, with evocative gothic candelight and Rolfe Kent's lyrical score creating a palpable, melancholy atmosphere which lingers long after the inevitable finale.

As usual, the Miramax DVD is a sparse and overpriced package, but the image and sound quality are acceptable given the film's low budget limitations. The shadows look rich and well-defined, while the basic surround mix gets the job done considering most of the dialogue remains well centered. The trailer, which in typical Miramax fashion tries to make this look much more frivolous than it really is, clocks in as the only extra. For fans of the film, though, this will be a welcome release all the same, and anyone with a taste for pitch black comedy should find plenty to enjoy here.

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