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The House of Yes feels stagebound

Theater and film, as media, differ in as many ways as they overlap. Just as with adapting a novel to a movie, there is no simple translation from one media to another — a play takes place from a fixed vantage point, there is no editing, and no digital/optical photographic effects.

Perhaps the most extreme example I can think of where a play has been fully reimagined as a movie is Julie Taymor’s Titus. On the other end of the spectrum is Glengarry Glen Ross, where the film makes no drastic divergence from the play, and in fact the largest change is just more words. And in still more rare cases, an original movie only feels like it was derived from a play, and is the better for it, like Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.

But to me, Mark Waters’ The House of Yes retains so much of its origins as a play that it’s difficult to see the advantage of translation to film. It still feels stagebound.

Unfortunately, the DVD picture quality was heinous. The bulk of the action takes place by candlelight, and the poorly compressed video cannot cope. You don’t have to be a home theater expert to clearly see the smudgy digital artifacts.

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