I really wanted to like Netflix’s thriller spoof The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window, so much so that I watched it through, long after it had proven itself a failure. Like its title, this is an overlong comedy that stretches a good premise so thin it sometimes forgets to execute its inherent satire.
Kristen Bell stars as the woman in the house across the street from the girl in the window: Anna, a suburban woman with a troubled past. A former artist whose marriage to Douglas (Michael Ealy) has fallen apart, Anna spends her days mixing wine and pills from an armchair facing the neighborhood, nursing a fear of rain and longing for better days. Anna is encouraged when Neil (Tom Riley), an attractive new neighbor, moves in across the street. But initial thoughts of romance are quickly scuttled when Anna witnesses a murder in Neil’s house. She’s determined to get to the bottom of what happened, but her unstable psychological state and constant substance abuse makes her an unreliable witness – and soon she starts to doubt the evidence of her own eyes.
The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window has a delicious premise, and the subtle nudge-nudge wink-wink of its trailer is alluring, promising a sly series that takes the piss out of the sub-genre of “disturbed woman psychological thrillers.” Interestingly, it appears to be using Netflix’s own The Woman in the Window – which is, in fact, a pretty decent example of this type of film – as a stylistic template. With Bell a proven, capable lead and talented comedic support from the likes of Cameron Britton, Brenda Koo, Shelley Hennig, and Mary Holland, among others, this one should have been a slam dunk. But it’s an air ball, mildly amusing in its best moments and miraculously dull otherwise. It stretches one episode worth of jokes out to eight segments, most of them landing with a dull thud thanks to clunky timing and long stretches of conventional thriller detail that separate the bits. Editing is crucial to this kind of humor, I think, and this one needed rapid-fire Brooklyn Nine-Nine energy, but it grinds along like the slow-burn dark mysteries it’s trying to lampoon. The result is an unfortunate misfire, all the moreso for how much it might have worked.