Grace Whitman ’22
Everyone has seen the “Let’s Hide Behind the Chainsaws” Geico commercial mocking the fact that people in horror movies often make poor decisions which result in their deaths. Netflix’s new original series, The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in Window, pokes fun at that same concept.
The name itself is a ridiculous spoof on several mystery psychological thrillers and their unrealistic plotlines, including The Woman in the Window (2021), The Girl on the Train (2016), and Rebecca (2020). Netflix’s new parody points at familiar plotlines about women attempting to solve a murder on their own and in turn being gaslit and accused of crying wolf.
The eight-episode series follows Anna (Kristen Bell), who has become an alcoholic and ombrophobic—someone with a fear of the rain—following a recent divorce sparked by the death of her daughter on a rainy day. Against her therapist’s recommendations, Anna mixes full bottles of wine with her medications, which leads her to escape her traumatic reality through hallucinations. Across the street from Anna, a new, widowed neighbor Neil (Tom Riley) moves in with his daughter Emma (Samsara Yett). While enjoying a rainy night inside, Anna looks across the street into this neighbor’s window and witnesses Neil’s girlfriend being murdered. After calling 9-1-1 to report the murder, Anna collapses, overcome with her fear of the rain. Her quest to solve the mystery begins, despite being told she is “crazy” and imagining the whole situation.
As a viewer, it is difficult to determine which scenes are fantasies that take place in Anna’s head and which are actual events. This not only creates confusion for viewers, but also leads Anna to question her own sanity, particularly with regard to her capacity for violence, especially in light of how her community and local law enforcement gaslight her.
In addition to the obvious parodies of similar plotlines found in other psychological thrillers, The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in Window also offers some comedic moments that poke fun at mystery movies and their perfectly-timed, ironic scenarios. For example, in The Woman in the Window, Anna Fox has crippling agoraphobia, whereas Anna in The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in Window has ombrophobia—and, of course, it always seems to be raining during intense scenes. This convenient coincidence, paired with the fact that the characters in the two thrillers are both women named Anna, makes for a delightful parody.
The series ends with a cliffhanger, setting the show up perfectly for a second season. However, with that being said, Rachel Ramras, co-creator of the series, has said that “it is a limited series and, in its conception, that’s how it ended. Part of the fun of the ending is that thrilling cliffhanger.” This choice is similar to how Gone Girl leaves viewers wondering what Nick and Amy Dunne’s life will be like in the future, with many questions and no clear answers.
Overall, as affirmed by its long run on Netflix’s Top 10 Chart, this deadpan psychological thriller is a must-watch for its spoof of the thriller genre.