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‘Krazy House’ review: Dirs. Steffen Haars & Flip Van der Kuil [Sundance 2024]

by Kat Hughes

It’s January and whilst most are focused on awards season being in full swing, it is also the start of festival season. Right now the fortieth edition of Sundance is underway, and while THN can’t be there in person, we will be bringing you a round up of what we have been able to access virtually. First up for review is the rather eccentric Krazy House from Dutch duo Steffan Haars and Flip Van der Kuli.

Nick Frost and Alicia Silverstone appear in Krazy House by Steffen Haars and Flip van der Juil, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Krazy House screens as part of the Midnight strand of programming, which embraces films with an affinity for the macabre or weird. Krazy House certainly fits the brief as even long after viewing, the audience will be wondering exactly what it is that they have watched. Initially setup with the trappings of a 90s family sitcom, Krazy House slowly morphs into something more extreme. By the end, it is hard to work out exactly how events ended up where they are, but it’s a curiously compelling journey. 

The family at the centre of Krazy House are the Christian family, consisting of stay at home dad, Bernie (Nick Frost), bread-winning wife, Eve (Alicia Silverstone), boy-crazed daughter, Sarah (Gaite Jansen), and science nerd son, Adam (Walt Klink). Christian by both name and faith, Bernie is an especially devout man and tries to infuse the same passion for the lord into his family. He even insists upon them wearing matching Jesus sweaters, which forms an early glimpse of friction between faithful Bernie and science-minded Adam. They are a recognisable sitcom family unit, albeit with a few additional flourishes. 

Krazy House adheres closely to the sitcom format. There is  the inclusion of cheesy opening titles and an overuse of audience participation. Throughout the first thirty or so minutes, canned laughter plays on loop, punctuated by the occasional cheer, aww, or boo. It is a style of comedy that modern audiences have moved away from, and will even take a while for those brought up on it to become acclimated to. 

It being a sitcom means that there has to be some kind of catastrophe for the family to face, and this week it’s a big one. Breadwinner Eve becomes injured and assigned to bed rest by the doctor. At the same time, the house is experiencing water problems. In a bid to fix them, Bernie hires a trio of Dutch workers: Piotr (Jan Bijvoet), Dmitri (Chris Peters) and Igor (Matti Stooker). Rather than fix the issues, the threesome begin to systematically destroy Bernie’s household both physically and metaphorically. In addition to breaking down walls, one of the men seduces Sarah, whilst the other finds a novel way for Adam to demonstrate his skill for science. Bernie is the ultimate overly polite Ned Flanders type, and so he doesn’t want to say anything to the men about their quality of ‘work.’ 

Whilst the first third of Krazy House works as a slightly warped version of a classic sitcom, it is a sudden rug pull that sets the film’s best elements into motion. Bernie and family find themselves held hostage by the men. As they continue to decimate both his house and loved ones, Bernie clings to his faith and love for Jesus. Here, Krazy House ventures into an arena that is perhaps best described as ‘The Last Temptation of Ned Flanders’ with Bernie confronted with all manner of house truths and uncomfortable moments. Nick Frost plays the part brilliantly, nailing Bernie’s sweet side, whilst also able to communicate his repressed resentment. 

Eventually Bernie snaps and it is this version of the character that is the most entertaining. The source of his newfound inner power will get tongues talking as audiences analyse what directors Haars and Van de Kuil have to say about blind faith. Krazy House retains its humour throughout, though, like the story, this morphs as the film changes. What begins as straightforward slapstick and potty jokes, becomes more biting and adult, before descending into full on absurdity. It is a lot to keep track of and not everyone will be able to hold on for the full ride. Those that do will enjoy Krazy House’s originality and free spirit. Its inability to be easily pinned down proves to be one of its strongest components. 

One for those with an appetite for the unusual, Krazy Horse is a brilliant rendering of what it might look like to place Ned Flanders directly into Hell. Super weird and super fresh, Krazy House is an excellent addition to the Sundance Midnight strand. 

Krazy House

Kat Hughes

Krazy House

Summary

Both a nostalgic throwback to 90s sitcoms and an unexplainable quirky comedy, Krazy House will have viewers scratching their heads and clutching their bellies in equal measure. 

4

Krazy House was reviewed at Sundance 2024.

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