Murder House Flip would already be the type of show that makes any attempt at a straight-forward “review” sound like someone on a street corner having a heat stroke even if it was a normal-sized show airing on a normal network. But add in the fact that Murder House Flip is also a part of Quibi—the new streaming service that delivers its content in tiny 10-minutes-or-less chapters—and the whole thing starts to get surreal. Nothing has ever made me feel more like a background character in a dystopian sci-fi film than watching Murder House Flip on Quibi. If I saw the opening frame of this show used as set dressing in a Paul Verhoeven flick I wouldn’t bat a freaking eye. Is that a positive or negative for the platform as a whole? Hard to say, but what I do know is that I watched three episodes of Murder House Flip, totaling about 17 minutes of my life, and boy did I not feel great afterward.
What the show has going for it is its audacious premise, which is guaranteed to draw eyeballs. It’s basically a home renovation series like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition or Property Brothers, except designers/hosts Mikel Welch and Joelle Uzyel focus exclusively on the sites of horrific real-life murders. The first “episode”, chopped up into three 6-ish-minute chunks, focuses on a lovely couple who moved into the infamous “Death House” of Dorothea Puente, an elderly Sacramento woman who murdered and buried seven victims in the 1980s.
Thanks to the episode lengths, you don’t get enough info about the murders for this to count as true crime, but you also don’t spend enough time with the homeowners to get the cathartic pleasantness of a renovation show. The homeowners themselves, at least in this first example, don’t even seem that miffed about living in the murder house in the first place, so there are no real stakes, either. The show is a few minutes touring a room where a very real person was dismembered, then a few more minutes wondering if a new color scheme might make you think less about that person getting dismembered.
That’s the thing — the premise itself doesn’t even hold up. There’s a lot of empty speak about “reclaiming the space” and whatnot, but at the end of the day the murder house is…still a murder house. I full-on felt like I was taking crazy pills when the third episode ended without the design team doing a single thing inside the interior of the house. They just jazzed up the side yard, added a gorgeous gazebo, and threw in a swing set. The inside, where all the murders happened? Exactly the same! What was accomplished here? Imagine if an exorcist told someone possessed by an unholy spirit to put on a prettier pair of shoes and then dipped. You know that meme where the one character is like “My job here is done” and the second character is like “but you didn’t do anything” and the first guy just dramatically exits anyway? That’s Murder House Flip.
I can’t speak yet for the rest of Quibi’s content—and man, it is an eclectic bunch—but it seems the major appeal of something like Murder House Flip is that it is 100% harmless and will barely affect your life. It’s just air. It has a wacky concept that gets you to click play and then contains enough surface-level stimulus to keep you interested for 17 minutes. Mission accomplished there, yeah, fair enough. But just because something is a quick bite doesn’t mean it has to be undercooked.