Apart from its catchy title, "The House of Yes" is filled with hysteria, incest, murder and fetishizing. But you are likely to ask yourself sooner rather than later: Is this enough?
The film was taken from a play and shows it in excessive talkiness and a far from helpful circularity, as it soon exhausts its meager supply of themes. First-time director Mark Waters is more adept at coaxing eruptions of black comedy from his strong cast than he is at carrying his script past its stage-bound limitations.
It begins when the scion of a rich and more than slightly permissive suburban Washington family drags his workaday fiancee to his family's Gothic mansion to spend Thanksgiving weekend. You know the film is going to be carving more than turkey when they are greeted by hysterical laughter from Parker Posey, the recently deinstitutionalized sister who has assumed the identity of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Jackie-O, as she calls herself, clearly can't wait to resume her incestuous relationship with her twin brother, Marty (Josh Hamilton), and re-enact with him the Kennedy assassination, an event that resonates in a meaningful if predictable way with the fatherless family. Posey will cement her standing as the diva of independent film with this role, teetering between her own terror at an ever-possible loss of control and malicious scheming to displace the fiancee (Tori Spelling).
Spelling is a pleasant surprise, projecting strength of character from beneath her unsophisticated exterior and holding the screen against the others. Genevieve Bujold is a big plus, too, as the family's selectively tunnel-visioned matriarch. But the antics
are, on the whole, curiously lacking in tension, even when Posey's Jackie-O slips into her pink suit and pillbox hat, accessorized with loaded pistol. The problem with "The House of Yes" isn't that it's weird but that it's not weird enough.
'The House of Yes'
Starring Parker Posey, Josh Hamilton, Tori Spelling, Freddie Prinze Jr., Genevieve Bujold
Directed by Mark Waters
Released by Miramax
Rated R (language, perverse sex-related situations and an image of violence)
Sun score: **
Pub Date: 10/24/97