Modestly Made and Executed, The Happy House Is Pretty Likeable


City couple goes to remote B&B, weird shit happens—the only surprises in D.W. Young’s tiny low-budget debut are how mildly he satirizes this thinnest of genres and how sincerely he treats his clichéd characters. Anemic hipster Khan Baykal and wiseacre girlfriend Aya Cash drive upstate for a relationship-repair weekend and land at the eponymous inn, where a Puritanical code of conduct prevails and the only other guest is a Swedish lepidopterist (Oliver Henzler). The punitive rationing of the world’s greatest blueberry muffins is the primary dramatic fuel, until a third-act escaped psycho shows up. The low-boiling jokes about crazy country folk, cuckoo clocks, and menacing cutlery are treated as throwaways, as if Young didn’t even think they were funny. This leaves the fully committed cast to fill the vacuum, which they do subtly and pleasantly enough; Cash is a cherry bomb just waiting for a loaded script, and 30 Rock vet Marceline Hugot is indelible as the B&B’s cheery proprietor. It’s hard to be certain whether the film’s placidity is an ironic gag, but the modesty at work turns out to be pretty likable, as strange as that sounds.