Tiger House – Film Review
I didn’t want to spend the money to go see The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials this week. So I thought I’d settle for a low profile, British thriller that happens to also star Kaya Scodelario.
I feel confident I made the better choice.
TL;DR Kaya Scodelario plays Die Hard on-a-budget and fucking nails it. Tiger House is a tight, fast thriller with even a little character development chucked in. It won’t change the world, but it helped change my impression of Kaya. 3 out of 5 stars.
Now I won’t only think of her as the obligatory girl from The Maze Runner.
The plot of Tiger House sees Kaya, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, secretly visiting her upper middle class boyfriend, Mark, on the DL. She’s also pregnant, but Mark’s mummy wouldn’t like that one bit. But she, and her family, have other things on their mind when, in the middle of the night, a squad of criminals (led by Dougray Scott and featuring Ed “why did I give up Game of Thrones to be the new Transporter?” Skrein) enter the house and take them hostage. Their plan is to use Mark’s stepdad to steal cash from his place of work (a bank, I assume?). Kaya manages to conceal herself, and it’s up to her to fight off the baddies. She scrapes and scrambles her way to some victories, before the finale reveals that Mark’s stepdad was in on the plot all along. But his pissed off wife guns him down, and Kaya gets to slink away with a nice block of cash for her troubles.
Not bad for a little hoodrat, hey, Mum?
Like I said, Tiger House isn’t going to change the world. Plot wise, it’s nothing new. The twist regarding Mark’s stepdad added a little extra juice, but this is a fairly standard Die Hard knock off.
What makes it work, though, is a committed performance from Kaya, and an impressive dedication to keeping all the action confined to just this one, no-so-big house in the suburbs.
Without stretching suspension of disbelief.
Why I hate this movie:
The only stuff that didn’t really work for me was the protracted sequence of Kaya hiding under the bed. This unfortunately comes at the front of the movie, so for quite a while I was not very happy with Tiger House. There is absolutely no way nobody would have heard or seen her shuffling about under there. The two “bullshit” moments would have to be when she escapes, using only a mildly beeping alarm to cover the sound of her pounding the floor to flee; and when she must have psychically turned off Ed Skrein’s peripheral vision so she could use a hockey stick to pull her bag under the bed. Good grief.
Kaya’s phone battery also happens to coincidentally die the second she tries to use it after retrieving it from her bag. Predictable.
Mum has a lover on the side who turns up at one point. He gets no answer at the door (everyone’s tied up, remember?) so he enters the house and starts snooping around. Dude, what if her husband was home? Think about it. Gosh. Thankfully, he is promptly murdered.
Dougray, who turns out to be sympathetic towards Kaya, is given some soppy backstory about how the only reason he ever went to prison was because he helped mercy kill a terminally ill friend of his. It’s an easy excuse, and it feels forced. Why can’t he just be a human being with regular thoughts and emotions who changes his mind?
Oh, and Mark is captured when he investigates a strange noise. Come on, dude.
But it’s not all bad:
Mark, in his investigation, does manage to surprise and mortally wound Dougray, though. With a cricket bat. Nice job.
The movie belongs to Kaya. She is just a dogged, undeterred badass. But not in an overpowered, Mary Sue way. She struggles and toughs out her way to every victory. It’s earned. If they ever do a gender flipped Die Hard reboot, she’s got an excellent demo reel.
Her greatest moment of badassery is when she takes down the bearded goon in the finale. She’s just come off of killing the bald goon with Mark’s crossbow. She fucking yanks the bolt out of him so she can recycle it, and then shoots Beardy by the pool. To finish him off, she wrestles him in and bloody drowns him. What a beast.
She finds the crossbow in the attic. Mark had to put it there after accidentally shooting Kaya in the leg with it at the start of the movie. But she kept the bolt as a good luck charm, so to use the crossbow, she needs to retrieve the crossbow bolt, the very same one that went through her leg prior, from her bag. What a fucking beast.
Ed Skrein does his evil faced thing as the most unhinged of the criminals. He starts off seemingly reluctant to participate in the plan, but he gradually devolves into a crazed animal.
Dougray is the most redemptive of the criminals. He spends most of the movie dying from the wound he got from Mark, so he has plenty of time to reflect. He ends up allowing Kaya to escape. And when she and the family are later recaptured, he shoots Ed dead before he can kill Kaya.
The Mum is a doctor, so the criminals force her to treat Dougray early on. She sees Kaya hiding under the bed, but keeps her cool. That was a nice moment for her. Considering that the rest of the time she is a controlling, sanctimonious, cheating jerk.
The Stepdad twist caught me by surprise. Kaya had just finished off Baldy and Beardy, and then she finds Stepdad tied up in the van. She releases him, guns down Ed and is ready to finish him off when Stepdad brains her from behind with a shovel. I literally said “Oh, fuck.”
Mum shotguns his ass moments later.
Kaya Scodelario sounds so much more authentic with a British accent.
Oh, and I like the kind of ambivalent ending. Kaya doesn’t get to stay with Mark, but she does get to slip away with a stack of cash to raise her baby. Or, alternatively, she could afford an abortion now. Either way, it’s a win. But, like, a sad win.
I expect nothing more of my genre movies than to be good. And Tiger House is good. 3 out of 5 stars.