This is a slasher/home-invasion/cabin-in-the-woods type film. A family is reuniting: parents, adult children and their partners getting together to celebrate the parents’ anniversary. Two of the siblings seem to be introducing new girlfriends into the mix, and the youngest daughter has a new beau (who might as well be wearing a red shirt.)
Shortly after they settle in to eat, the action begins. They are shot with arrows through the windows and right away we discover that one of the new interlopers grew up with a survivalist dad and quickly rises to the occasion, fending off this sudden threat.
She is lovely, smart, upbeat, Australian and the former student of her boyfriend, a frustrated prof with money trouble who is at odds with his more successful brother and also frustrated with father’s clear disappointment in him. In fact, for a slasher flick, this family has some rich dynamics and the actors portray these tensions and differences beautifully.
Anyway, one by one, the family members are subject to brutal attacks. And they make the usual stupid choices by splitting up, ignoring obvious red flags and panicking. In fact, Aussie girl is the only one who thinks well both defensively and offensively.
So while this action is escalating, certain things start to become obvious to the observant audience member and you start to see what becomes the surprise twist in the story. But despite being able to predict its direction, the subplots and secrets deepen the story and intensity.
The violent attacks are relentless. Trust is compromised and the pace increases. At this point there are numerous deaths, there are killers within and without, and the fear is palpable.
So what this film does really right for a slasher is:
1. No teens! This is an adult reunion, how refreshing, no one to kick off my lawn.
2. Isolation: there even appears to be something blocking cell phone signals, so decent explanations for the further sense of remoteness.
3. More than one killer: it’s not until well into the flick that we are clear how many are involved and that escalates the threat- are they inside the house too?
4. No one is what they seem. As mentioned before, the characters all have a another side to them. Disapproving dad makes some seriously disappointing decisions himself in terms of protecting his family; guest girlfriend is a savvy survivalist, not just a cute grad student; douchey older brother is far more noble than given credit for; and the remaining family is full of surprises, too.
5. There are darkly funny moments. A good horror film should always have this.
Ultimately, the reveal reminds us that as horrible as these actions are, the motives behind them are worse. The pace, acting, and action are excellent making this a surprisingly good film.