Netflix has probably been recommending the 2020 German film ‘The Strange House’ (Das schaurige Haus) to all those who’ve watched ‘Stranger Things’. That’s how I ended up streaming it. And yes, apart from having young protagonists, upbeat synth-pop music, the movie does have a few more things in common with the series. Except for the super ugly extra-terrestrial beings.

Directed by Daniel Prochaska, ‘The Strange House’ is a straightforward story about brothers Hendrick (Leon Orlandianyi) & Eddi (Benno Rossokopf), who move to a creepy looking house in a small border town near Slovenia, because their recently widowed mother cannot afford big city rent anymore. The boys begin to experience paranormal activity in the house and team up with two local kids to investigate the haunting and the deaths of the original inhabitants.

Despite being a horror film, the mood is largely fun, even though the pace slackens towards the second half. ‘The Strange House’ is clearly targeted at a younger audience and teenagers would enjoy it a lot more than older viewers. Prochaska and team don’t bother with jump-scares, and keep the scary bits quite simple, so there’s close to no hair-raising scenes.

Even though the story unfolds in 2020, it has a distinct retro theme to it, largely because of the 1980s synth-pop music that runs through most of the runtime. The music is not completely random or just a way to ape ‘Stranger Things’, because the spirits haunting the house died in 1980, so the nostalgic soundtrack kind of makes sense. It definitely makes the movie more enjoyable than it really is, at least for those who like synth beats or Daft Punk songs.

All the young actors do a commendable job, especially Lars Bitterlich, who plays Fritz, the nerdy local boy who convinces everybody to investigate what’s happening. In ‘Stranger Things’ terms, Fritz is a mash of Will Byers & Dustin Henderson – nerdy, goofy, earnest & silly. I like how some of the supernatural stuff also happens during the day and in the outdoors, because constant night shots and dark lighting really makes horror/mystery movies annoying and depressing.

‘The Strange House’ is more of a teen murder mystery flick, with some ghosts thrown in the mix. A fun enough pick to watch with the family. It’s a 6/10 from me.

You can stream the film on Netflix.

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