Household Gods

Household Gods

***

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Household Gods is dislocative. Some people who may or may not be entirely real in places that are not entirely real. It is uncertain, it is undefined. These are voices from some anonymous London, some nonspecific place within that wider location.

Six small character studies, six people in six homes, six sets of speaking that are not monologues, filmed indirectly. The camera moves around its six locations, our six people talk. Not to us, not as we watch them, but at some point, and now we hear them.

It is a series of portraits of something; urban decay isn't quite right, domestic neglect isn't either. Home and the absence of home, perhaps, the need for a household god; something to keep watch and order.

We see attempts, replacements, unsettling in their own ways. A shrine of baby photographs, the drone of the television. The repetitive, omnipresent, drone of the television. We are watching the watchers. Bill Watterson's Calvin once asked what was meant by 'the opiate of the masses'. A television responded "it means Karl Marx hadn't seen anything yet".

With its found music, location sound, these voices that are not those of those we are watching, Household Gods is unsettling. It attempts further tricks to that end, the opening credits that play with kerning, little fiddlings with the sound mixing. It is distancing, deliberately so. New walls are created.

Filmed for The Grierson Trust, Household Gods appeared at the Edinburgh Film Festival before With A Girl Of Black Soil. While there's the potential for voyeurism, so much is left without context that it's unsatisfying; we are watching without knowing. That's enough to capture the essence of the film. We are the empty audience.

Reviewed on: 24 Feb 2009
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Alone at home, but haunted by other voices: six people in six rooms somewhere in London.

Festivals:

Glasgow 2009

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