Individual Work
This House Has People in It

This House Has People in It, on the surface, is a 12 minute live action short film created by Alan Resnick, Robby Rackleff and Dina Kelberman for Adult Swim’s Infomercials series. The audience takes the point of view of a network of security cameras inside a suburban family’s house. The cameras switch back and forth periodically as we watch and listen to each member of the family prepare for a birthday party. The husband argues mildly with his wife who is baking in the kitchen as their infant daughter makes a mess of her lunch. The grandmother reclines in the living room, watching an odd public access program on TV. The young birthday boy fixes up decorations as he awaits his friends’ arrival and a repairman in the basement fixes up a pipe. Things take a turn when the married couple notices their teenage daughter who has been lying face down in the middle of the kitchen since the opening shot. The situation quickly spins out of control as she slowly sinks through the floor and no amount of help can stop her.
The Youtube version of the film includes a link to the website of the fictional security, AB Video Surveillance Solutions. With a sharp eye and little bit of digging, the viewer can gain access to a huge catalogue of additional footage of the family, who are numbered individually as “subjects”. We are suddenly led down a rabbit hole of absurd and uncomfortable slices of the family’s life with nuggets of subtle humor intertwined.
You can view the original film as well as about 25 extra videos of the family members, who very rarely interact with anyone outside the house and seem to be unable to leave the property. Some of the logs are only a few seconds long and seem to offer nothing of importance, while others are up to 15 minutes in length and are full of possible hints and tie-ins. You can also listen to recorded phone conversations between the husband and wife, read family members’ emails, view pictures with cryptic symbols and messages and a play a short flash game. All of these entries beg the viewer to put them together to make sense of the entire situation. It is possible that none of it is supposed to fit together at all, because very little explanation is given as to what is actually happening to the People in This House. This only increases the creepy factor that permeates the work.
There are a plethora of themes throughout the work such as privacy, paranoia, blended families, mental illness, pizza, drugs, the paranormal and cartoon mascots. Whether or not it was intentional, This House Has People in It presents a very bizarre and abstract version of what life is like in a typical suburban family. It sheds light on how strange it all might look to an outsider. By comparing this fictional reality with our own, we may start realize that they aren’t actually all that different.