There seems to be a tendency nowadays to, and it's been gradual, I think, there's a checklist that we have for children; where whenever there is a problem, there's a solution, and we have Oprah, and we have pills and we can sort of prescribe away the problem. I think it's still possible for a family to do everything right, and still have things go terribly wrong.
—Director and Writer Christopher DenhamHome Movie
documents one family's descent into darkness through compilation of the Poe family's home-made video footage. In the remote woods of upstate New York, David and Clare Poe are attempting to live an idyllic life. However, the Poe children are hiding a dark secret and something is wrong with ten-year old twins, Jack and Emily Poe. To stop them, their parents must enter the nightmare of their children’s minds. As they try to regain control of the children’s lives, the pressing question becomes who will ultimately survive the battle.
Definitely not to be confused with Home Movies
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
- Daylight Horror: When the kids try to kill Christian. It's also just barely dawn as Clare is being chased through the woods.
- Deliberately Cute Child: Jack and Emily pull this, after being prescribed pills, and after the exorcism.
- Department of Redundancy Department:
Dave: "Good evening... and welcome to haunted house ghost sightings of... ghosts."
- Demonic Possession: Dave tries exorcising the children at one point. We never find out if they were possessed or not, but given how the film ended, it's doubtful.
- Determinator: Clare was beaten, stabbed in the arm, and drugged, and still managed to make it through the woods and to the road while being chased.
- Don't Go in the Woods: The twins' hid a lot of their secrets in the woods around the home.
- Downer Ending: The parents are drugged and, it's implied, about to be eaten with by their children.
- Drop the Hammer: The kids grab one for the big night, but are never actually shown using it.
- Easter Bunny: Dave dresses as a pink one for Easter.
- Emotionless Girl: Emily hums, but never says a word in English for the first half of the film. Even in the second part, she only says a few words.
- Enfant Terrible: The kids gradually escalate to this.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: For some reason, the dog is freaking out on the night Dave and Clare find the kids in bed together.
- Fairy Tale Motifs: The Story of the Dragon and the Paper Bag; it's about a two-headed dragon that disguises itself as a normal child, as apart of a plan to kill and eat all the children in the town it lives near.
- Foreshadowing: David's story about the two-headed dragon wearing the paper bag over his head, and the scene where the children throw their dinnerware to the ground, is echoed in the final shot of the film—their struggling parents are restrained on the dining table, partially wrapped in garbage bags (in which the dead bugs and leaves were put in the beginning of the film) while the children sit clutching silverware and wearing paper bags over their heads. The ice cream truck mentioned earlier in the film makes an appearance near the end, as well.
- Full Name Ultimatum:
Clare: "Jack Mathias Poe, put that water gun down right now."
- Gasshole: Dave is a minor example, making crude jokes as his wife prepares the turkey for dinner.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!:
Clare: "That's the TV. It's so frickin' loud."
Dave: "... Frickin'?"
Clare: "Yeah, I said frickin', sorry."
- Gross-Up Close-Up: The film opens with a zoom in on road kill, complete with swarming flies.
- Hairpin Lockpick: Dave teaches Jack And Emily how to do it. Really, really bad idea.
- Haunted House: Dave starts to think some outside force might be influencing the kids.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Dave teaches the kids stuff like lock picking, and how to tie a bowline. They put these skills to good use.
- Hollywood Exorcism: Dave performs an amateur one on the kids and their room, and actually does mention how archaic the practice is.
- Home Porn Movie: Joked about by Dave, when he brings the anniversary dinner to the showering Clare.
- Hope Spot: When Clare seems like she'll flag down the ice cream truck for help.
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: A birthday, Halloween, an anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, and finally Easter.
- Hostile Show Takeover:
Jack: "Hi, welcome to The Jack and Emily Show!".
- I'm a Humanitarian: As shown by them eating raw meat, their penchant for biting, and some of their drawings, the kids apparently harbor cannibalistic fantasies. The ending also heavily implies the kids eat their parents, who they have strapped to the table, forks and knives at the ready.
- Incredibly Lame Pun:
Dave: "And on this episode of Clare Poe: Turkey Proctologist Extraordinaire, we—ooh, rectum? Damn near killed 'em! Huh? Huh?"
- In-Universe Camera: It's a "found footage" style film.
- Jitter Cam: Not often, but certainly present when the camera holder is running.
- Kids Are Cruel: One of the nicer things Jack and Emily do is crush a frog in a vice.
- Kick the Dog: See Troubling Unchildlike Behavior.
- Knife Nut: Emily briefly wields one.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall
"Let's have a staring contest
. I dare you to stare until our movie's done. I bet you you can't."
- Little "No": When Dave finds all the fucked up stuff in the kids' clubhouse.
- Malevolent Masked Men: The kids don Halloween demon masks for the big night, and later have paper bags on as they're about to kill their parents.
- Manchild: Dave. He loves bad jokes and dressing up in costumes for the holidays. and not just the holidays you usually wear costumes for.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Are the kids just sociopathic, or is there something to Dave's rants about an evil in the house and surrounding area?
- Meganekko: Clare, in her work attire.
- Mockumentary: The portions where Clare uses the camera to document her work follow this style.
- Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: The twins illustrate their plan to attack Christian, another boy at their school, and their secret clubhouse is littered with such drawings.
- Nothing Is Scarier: We don't see Clare and Dave's deaths.
- Oh, Crap: When Clare realizes that she and David have been drugged. The viewers get one too when Jack starts filming.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Fuck, those kids are fast!
- Off with His Head!: It's a surprise that dog lasted as long as it did.
- Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?: Said when Clare sits on the Easter Bunny suit wearing Dave's lap. Turns out it is just a carrot.
- Psycho Smirk: The twins show this off when they take over the camera.
- Removed from the Picture: Dave finds a family photo in the kids' clubhouse, with his and Clare's faces scratched out.
- Self Made Orphans
- Sexy Priest: Dave, though he's technically a pastor.
- Shower Scene: Clare gets one, but Sexy Discretion Shot is in play.
- Siblings in Crime: Jack and Emily work together very closely.
- Significant Birthdate: The twins were born on October 31st, 1997.
- Snuff Film: The kids probably recorded themselves murdering their parents, even if we don't see them do so.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Cheerful ice cream truck music is played over the first bit of the credits.
- Strapped to an Operating Table: The kids tie Christian McNamara to a makeshift one, apparently intent on butchering him.
- Supernatural Proof Father: Dave, initially. He eventually wises up ("Our kids are fucking psychotic!")
- Tastes Like Diabetes: In-universe, the kids' Thanksgiving pilgrim costumes:
Clare: "You guys look so cute, I'm gonna vomit."
- Things That Go Bump in the Night: Clare had an eleven year-old patient who had hallucinations of "a man made of nails" hiding under his bed; after biting each other, the kids also claim "the man in the closet" was responsible.
- Those Things Are Not My Children: Clare says something to this effect near the end.
- The Voiceless: The kids don't talk much, up until the end.
- Too Dumb to Live: The parents who even after Jack and Emily are found ready to kill a classmate don't take very strict precautions.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Watching an animal documentary showing wolves eating a carcass, throwing rocks at their dad's head, crucifying the family cat, killing their goldfish and making a sandwich from them, eating raw meat, violently attacking and biting each other and another child, sticking the family dog's head on a spike, very nearly attempted murder of aforementioned child, killing their parents...
- Twisted Christmas: On Christmas morning, the twins kill and crucify the family cat on a decorative cross in the house.
- The Unreveal: The film skips Jack's responses to the Rorschach ink blot test, though it's possible he didn't give any actual answers, hence the fast forwarding.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: David, upon finding the family dog's head on a pike.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The nails the kids pour outside the house seems to be setting something up... but nope.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: The kids possibly injure themselves in order to make Dave out as an abuser.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: The kids' age isn't really consistent with when Dave and Clare mentioned they got married, but maybe they got pregnant out of wedlock?