Steffen Haars and Flip Van der Kuil brought their English-language debut to Sundance with Bernie Christian (Nick Frost), a 90s sitcom dad who loves Jesus more than his family. Starting with a sitcom format that skewers the idea of the perfect American family (and its sanctity), the Dutch duo quickly ditch the satire for a brash, loud, and bloody fight against Russians who just won’t leave. All with a studio audience.
Bernie, in standard sitcom dad format, sucks. He’s incapable of doing anything good for his family, and he’s annoying in just about every way. Even with that, though, Bernie immediately pulls you into the joke before it spirals further and further beyond this Christian father’s control. Bernie calls a family of depraved Russians to help repair his mistakes when his wife (Alicia Silverstone) is put on bed rest for a severe case of “burnout.” And it soon turns out to be the worst decision he could have made.
The best thing about Krazy House is its technical accomplishment of being shot all on one set, taking the sitcom format to the max. Not only is it something to marvel at when the bullets start flying and the explosions start, but also as it switches preservice. The switch between different aspect ratios for Bernie’s three specific mental states is jarring but so well done.
The jarring elements of switching from the standard four-camera sitcom format to the singular are expertly executed. With a set modeled after Married With Children and Alf, Krazy House is far and away capable of critiquing the American sitcom in the first act of the film. From a directorial and special effects standpoint, the film excels. Everything else, though, is mixed at best.
On the outrageously good side of the film, there is Nick Frost. Bernie is the center of everything. He’s the center of his family’s hatred, their problems, and their salvation when the time comes to turn on the Russians. As Christian sitcom dad Bernie, Frost is fantastic–American accent and all. He aces physical comedy and all the tropes we know. Then, as the film switches gears from sitcom satire into a man at his breaking point and an absolutely horrific action lead, Frost comes to play. The script is at an 11 and Frost showed up at a 15, making the film worth a watch for those who are fans of the actor and his effortless ability to deliver comedy and action.
Krazy House is one of those films that are absolutely hard to classify as anything other than chaotic. With Nick Frost carrying the lion’s share of the action and comedy, everything else around him falls flat. That said, chaos and violence, even when ramped up to the max, misses any mean or transgressive emotive moments, instead becoming a parody of hyperviolence. Only, it’s not clear if that’s intentional. It’s crammed full of dialogue and visuals to anger just about anyone not prepared.
Rating Krazy House is an experiment in rating three separate movies at one time. Erratic but never atrocious, they introduced the film as the most “f___ked of the festival,” but to win that title, there has to be intent behind the swings. After movies like The Sadness playing at festivals, the bar for meanness and sickness is high to clear, and Krazy House doesn’t clar it.
Ultimately, Krazy House is just a lot, and with only Nick Frost meeting that energy, it falls just short of having a lasting Midnighter impression. It’s gluttonous in how far it tries to push the envelope on violence, but it lacks the substance to make it the mean and sick film the introduction at Sundance set the audience up for. Instead, it’s a violent comedy built on the American sitcom and Christianity that aims to show just how absurd and twisted both concepts can get.
Krazy House screened as a part of Sundance 2024
Krazy House is just a lot, and with only Nick Frost meeting that energy, it falls just short of having a lasting Midnighter impression.