House ★★★½

Excerpt from "Roger Cobb's Rejection of Masculinity in Steve Miner's House (1986)".

One element that struck me upon my most recent viewing of the film though, was the repeated rejections of the external pressures to be more masculine by the film’s central character Roger Cobb, portrayed by the aforementioned Katt. I started realizing that only through these rejections is Cobb lead down the path of achieving his happy ending.

In the film, Roger Cobb is a Stephen King-like horror writer who has been coasting for years on the success of his novel Blood Dance. After the unexplained disappearance of his son, his wife Sandy Sinclair divorces him and – to make matters even worse – his aunt Elizabeth Hooper commits suicide by hanging herself. In the wake of these events, Cobb takes up residence in Elizabeth’s old, possibly haunted house.

This rounds out the basic sketch of the plot, and sets the scene for Cobb to battle any number of both literal and figurative demons. On the surface, these demons don’t seem to add up to any singular theme aside from Cobb’s general loss of control within his own life, as they represent a fairly expected range of 80s suburban every-man worries – like marriage, fatherhood, the loss of innocence, as well as post-traumatic stress caused by Cobb’s time spent in the army.

Early on in the film, it’s revealed that Roger Cobb is attempting to write a follow-up to his book Blood Dance – a true to life account of his time spent in the Vietnam War. His fans in this scene are lining up at a book signing event – and could exist here as a representation of the mainstream’s ideology that masculine is better. The fans range from young and old, men and female, and they clamor for Cobb to continue writing violent horror-fiction, instead of focusing on his new project. Cobb’s readers are so clearly uninterested in a book that offers such a close and intimate tackling of emotions – which otherwise would be pushed aside or deemed too personal – instead they opt to ingest entertainment that allows them a disconnect, or to remain emotionally distant from the reading material.

Cobb is not deterred by the public’s reaction – or his pushy manager – and decides to alter his entire lifestyle around the sculpting of his upcoming book, ultimately setting up the events of the film as a result of this choice. Despite the fact that his struggles throughout the film could be argued trace themselves back to this early decision, it’s that same decision that allows Cobb to receive his happy ending at the climax of the film – it’s the initial and subsequently repeated rejection of the external pressures of masculinity that allow him to truly be happy with his life at the end of the film.

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