Local Thrillers 'Penthouse North' and 'Girlhouse' Hit Home Vid

Michelle Monaghan and Michael Keaton on location for Penthouse North.
The two most high profile local productions since House at the End of the Street hit home video today. Girlhouse, the slasher which opened OIFF last year, and the mystery Penthouse North are among the bigger Ottawa films in terms of production values in the former and star power in the latter. I don't think that either film is especially good, but they’re at least worth checking out as curiosities with local flavour, even though they both set their stories in America.

Penthouse North is especially novel, since it arguably marks the low point of Michael Keaton’s career before his Oscar-worthy comeback in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Keaton shot the film here in town with True Detective’s Michelle Monaghan and the predominantly local crew (about 100 members of the production team is from Ottawa) back in 2011. Penthouse North is one of those fun examples in which local flavour creeps into the film (hello, MetcalfeStreet signs!), which is set in both New York and Afghanistan with Ottawa doubling as both locations, and it put the Wine Rack on Elgin Street on the map long before the Byward Market location became the most happening place in Blahttawa. (Who buys champagne at Wine Rack?) The production even retrofitted an abandoned No Frills grocery store to serve as the titular penthouse in which Keaton’s character terrorizes Monaghan and her poor cat.

It’s a shrewd coup for a film scene that continues to struggle, but, as I said while reviewing Birdman, nothing quite says rock bottom for a Hollywood icon quite like shooting a movie in a bankrupt Ottawa grocery store. Enjoy it as a double bill with Birdman to see the arc of Keaton’s comeback. Come shoot in our new Whole Foods now that you’re back on the A-list Mr. Keaton!

Girlhouse is now available on iTunes and in select US theatres and Penthouse North is now available on iTunes and the Cineplex Store.

Synopsis: A Halloween-style slasher for the digital age, it follows a beautiful young college student who, needing money for tuition, moves into a house that streams content to an X-rated website. After a deranged fan hacks in to determine the house's location, she finds herself in a terrifying fight for her life.

Penthouse North – Review
Synopsis: It's New Year's Eve in New York City and everyone's getting ready to party. Watching, waiting, a man called Hollander has a different kind of party in mind. Alone in her high-rise apartment, Sara has no idea that her boyfriend was a thief. But what he stole - and from whom - is about to put her life on the line. Trapped in the penthouse with Hollander and his sadistic partner, these two will kill, maim, tear the place apart to find a fortune in diamonds. While the party rages outside, inside Sara fights desperately for her life. It's kill or be killed in a pulse-pounding , non-stop fight to the finish - and it all takes place in Penthouse North.