This movie premiered a few years ago, but it didn’t get a wide release until 2013. With a cast composing of horror movie mainstays like Barbara Crampton, and several horror directors such as Joe Swanberg and Ti West, this movie was almost destined to be a cult hit before anyone had even seen it. The hype for this movie in the horror film circles was insane, and I think a lot of it had to do with the time between the initial premiere and the time it took for it to reach the film festival circuit. It gave the movie some time to build up a legend about itself considering that very few people had a chance to see it. So now that any shmuck can watch it on Netflix, we have a chance to see it for what it is away from the massive amount of hype that this movie had built up on it’s strange journey from obscurity to your streaming device of choice. Does the movie succeed on its own merits, or is this another example of something becoming inexplicably popular for a brief moment in time? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s to keep on reading!
The movie starts, as most low budget horror movies do, with fucking. We also know this is supposed to be a funny and/or satirical film because the sex was very unsatisfying.
The guy goes to the bathroom to wash off the stench of shame and incompetence while the lady goes downstairs. She gets the feeling that someone is watching her, but she ignores this and puts on some bitchin’ tunes. The guy leaves the bathroom and looks around before discovering that he’s in the opening scene of a horror movie.
Quick question: What the fuck is he looking at? I can’t tell if it’s a window or a door, but whichever one it is, it doesn’t face the outside of the house. It leads to some other room where the lady’s body has been left.
Anyway, some dude in a hoody and bunny mask grabs the sacrificial lamb and kills him with a machete. The scene cuts away from the impact, but we get a bit of splatter on the window/door/glass thingy behind him.
After that, we get to the meat of the story which is a younger couple driving to the boyfriend’s parent’s house (which the parents seem to haven’t been to in a long time) and the girlfriend wants to make a good impression. I’m gonna take a huge leap here and say that this visit isn’t going to go very well. For about ten minutes we get a lot of horror movie cliché tension builders. “I think someone is in the house!” “You stay here, while I take a look.” We follow the guy around for five minutes as he looks for stuff and naturally finds nothing but his son who has arrived off screen and was creeping in the house for some reason.
This “nothing’s happening, except maybe it is” crap continues through the night where we get a scene of the mom (who looks really young to be the dude’s mother) get some pills and someone in a wolf mask is watching her. Nothing happens though because we immediately cut to the next morning and as we all know, scary stuff never happens when the sun is out. This means we have to spend the whole day with these characters, which I guess gives us an opportunity to get to know them, but in all honestly the characterization is pretty shallow and unimportant. Three more couples show up at the house; two brothers, one with a girlfriend and the other with a wife, and a daughter with her boyfriend. Ten people in the house, and I only know one of their names by the time the blood starts t flow, which may say a lot about my attention span, but might also say something about the movie. Anyway, the five couples (first son who showed up last night, son with the wife, son with the girlfriend, the daughter, and the parents) are having dinner when the first son (Crispian) gets in a bullshit argument with his brother with the wife (Drake), when the daughter’s boyfriend (some pretentious looking film maker named Tariq) gets shot with an arrow while looking out a window.
Everyone starts freaking the fuck out while the bad guys fire some more arrows, and Drake gets hit with one in the back. Everyone moves into another room and starts yelling at each other. The only one who seems to know what they are doing is Crispian’s girlfriend (Erin) who’s checking windows and trying to keep everyone from making stupid mistakes. She can’t however talk the daughter (Amiee) out of running out the front door to get some help (hopefully bypassing the murderers with crossbows). For SOME REASON everyone else there thinks this is a great fucking plan, and she runs out the door at top speed only to run into garrote wire which was placed across the door at the exact right height so that she would slice her neck open upon impact. Good thing no one else tried it, or else it would have hit bone almost immediately and not have caused much more than a deep cut. ALSO it’s a good thing that they knew she was going to run at it going forty miles per hour or else it would have… I don’t know, annoyed her?
Erin quickly closes the door and examines the situation while everyone else continues to freak out and not do anything productive. I get that the daughter is probably dying, but everyone crowded around her are doing nothing to help. They’re just yelling and screaming at her face until she dies. Erin isn’t having any of this shit and proceeds to go through each room of the house to make sure every door and window is locked. Okay, so it seems to be that the thing that separates this movie from other slashers is that we have one character who is actually competent and doesn’t make all the mistakes that everyone else does. Now that’s actually a pretty good idea. I get sick of horror movies where no one knows how to act in these kinds of situations, and are just there to be meat for the grinder. The problem is that while SHE’S awesome, everyone else is the exact kind of character you normal find in these kind of movies. For fuck’s sake, the father leaves the mother alone in her room!
Naturally she gets killed almost immediately, and they discover the body after they hear her blood curdling scream. The killer must have worked really quick, considering that he also painted “YOU’RE NEXT” on the wall with her blood before everyone else showed up.
It gets even worse when Drake’s wife (Kelly) stays in that room while everyone else leaves (WHY AREN’T THEY STICKING TOGETHER!?!?) and finds the killer under the bed. She then runs out the front door with no regard to any possible danger that could be fucking waiting for her out there. Erin is still trying to keep everything together, but even she can’t handle the level of stupidity displayed by these people.
Drake tries to go after her, but the arrow in his back makes that difficult. Crispian FOR SOME REASON decides to make a run for the car, and Erin (his girlfriend if you don’t remember) doesn’t seem to have much problem with this despite only a few moments earlier saying that that would be a really bad idea. While Crispian’s doing that, Kelly runs to the neighbor’s house and gets killed by one of the killers.
We cut back to Erin who’s collecting weapons for them to use when one of them bursts through the window. He tries to get her with an axe, but he clearly has no idea who he’s fucking with. She dodges the blow, picks up a meat tenderizer, and goes to town on the masked fucker.
No one recognizes him, but despite not being the sheep guy who killed Kelly (he’s got a tiger mask), he somehow dragged her corpse to the house because it’s hanging out of a window. I don’t know, maybe the sheep guy gave it to him for some reason. During this, the dad has wandered off (sealing his fate) and discovers that at least one of the masked guys was hiding inside the house for the past few days.
Not five seconds after this revelation, the power goes out (naturally), and the group downstairs separates (ugh…) to find out what happened. The group downstairs consists of Erin, who goes to the basement to find the circuit breaker, and the couple I haven’t talked about yet because they haven’t done anything (the son Felix and his girlfriend Zee) who go upstairs to find the father. Once the couple finds dear old dad, he explains to them about the piss bottle before getting his throat cut open by a guy in a wolf mask. He sputters around for a bit and the music goes nuts to magnify the TERROR, until he finally drops dead. But wait… why didn’t the guy in the wolf mask immediately stab Felix and Zee? It turns out that they’re in on whatever the hell this is! PLOT TWIST!!!!
We cut back to Erin who’s in the basement (she JUST said it would be a bad idea to go to the basement, but whatever) who’s getting stalked by the guy with a crossbow (sheep guy). He freaks the fuck out after seeing the guy with the tiger mask dead (the one Erin killed), so I’m guessing they’re brothers or something.
With a renewed conviction to carry out whatever mission this is, the guy with the sheep mask ends up finding Erin, and starts smashing the door she’s behind (a la The Shining). Drake stumbles into the room where the Sheep guy is, and proceeds to shit his pants at the realization of what he’s just walked into. The sheep guy turns to go after Drake (completely forgetting about Erin), and proceeds to get a steak knife in his back when Erin takes this opportunity to strike. Sheep guy bolts out the door, and Erin locks it behind him.
The movie is actually starting to improve at this point. We’ve gotten rid of most of the annoying characters, and are putting more focus on Erin. The bad guys are getting a bit more depth, what with the vengeful sheep guy, and we even have some traitors in the mix with Felix and Zee. The first two third of this movie comes across like the film makers felt REQUIRED to put in a lot of clichéd horror movie tropes so that they can at least somewhat subvert them later. It feels unnecessary though because the tropes they’re subverting are so ingrained into the genre, that anyone who could even pick up on the fact that this is going in a somewhat different direction (there’s a character who can fight back and the bad guys aren’t impossible to hurt until the last ten minutes) would be VERY aware of how predictable these kind of movies are. Don’t just give me half an hour of original ideas if they were preceded by an hour of the same old shit.
Anyway, Felix and Zee come back downstairs, feigning innocence, and the group tries to think of what to do next. They start making some cheap traps (boards with nails in them!) and we find out that Erin grew up in some survivalist cult which explains how she’s able to kick so much ass. While the girls are on the ground floor, Felix and Drake are in the basement doing… something, when Felix decides to stab Drake about six times.
Erin goes upstairs to check the rooms, and finds the dad’s body. One of the killer tries to get the drop on her (I think it’s wolf guy), but she jumps out a fucking window (hurting her leg in the process) and hobbles her way to a nearby tree. She quickly realizes her mistake because sheep guy starts firing arrows at her and she runs back into the house and holes up in some sort of alcove hidden by a curtain. I think it’s a bay window, but the shots with her don’t pan out far enough to see if there IS a window, and it also seem like a bad idea to try hiding behind glass. Sheep guy is about to go through a different window but notices the nailed up board and avoids it… by stepping on the OTHER trap board that he couldn’t see. HA!!
Zee, Felix, and wolf guy all hear the commotion downstairs, so wolf guy goes to see what’s wrong. While this is going on, Zee tries to fuck Felix because nothing is sexy then doing it next to your boyfriend’s mother’s rotting corpse.
Seriously, she says “I want to fuck you next to your dead mom.” Felix rejects her (good decision) and instead goes downstairs to have a meeting with the hired guns. No one is particularly happy with what’s happened tonight, but Felix isn’t the one with the weapons, so he mollifies them with extra money for the job (once he gets the inheritance). Erin hears all this from her hiding spot, but her cell phone goes off, which the bad guys hear. This might be good news though because it’s proof that 911 got her text and are sending help. Wolf guy (who seems to be the leader) tries to get her. His attempt is pretty pathetic though because the moment he opens the curtains, she just knocks his ass over and hobbles away.
Wolf guy, Felix, and Zee presume that she ran into the woods, but sheep guy thinks she circled back into the house. Turns out he’s right! What’s his prize? A knife to the head!!
While the three remaining baddies discuss their next plan (wolf guy goes back inside while the other two watch the house), Erin sets up a trap on the front door for whichever dumb motherfucker tries to come after her. She didn’t count on wolf guy coming through the window however, so she gets her ass to the basement as quickly as she can (which isn’t all that quick considering her leg is still messed up). Despite her slow speed, wolf guy doesn’t catch up to her because he prefers to walk for no logical reason (he probably thinks it makes him look cool). She runs to the basement, sets up another trap, and takes out wolf guy without much trouble.
All that’s left are Felix and Zee, who try to take some shots at Erin with the crossbow, but they’re way too incompetent to handle that. They chase her to the kitchen, where she proceeds to take them both on at the same time with a bad leg. Naturally she finishes them both off without too much trouble. She gets stabbed in the back at one point, but that barely seems to faze her. The one to REALLY get it bad is Felix who gets a blender shoved onto his head and she turns it on.
So Erin’s finally killed off all the threats and has a moment to relax. Things aren’t completely over however, because Felix’s phone starts to ring. Erin answers it, and the person on the other side is… Crispain!!! Yup. Remember him? Erin’s boyfriend who went to the car and never came back? Yeah, he starts talking (not even waiting to confirm if he’s talking to Felix or not) and reveals that he’s a part of this whole mess.
Without getting a word from the other side of the phone, he goes back into the house and finds an incredibly pissed off Erin waiting for him. What happens next is one of the most glorious scenes of a character trying to explain their actions that I’ve ever seen. He tries to rationalize, he explains that she was supposed to survive (he could be lying about that) tries to blame her, and then forgive her, for how badly the plan went, tries to bribe her with student loan payments and vacations, but Erin isn’t about to let this mother fucker off the hook.
Erin finishes off this scumbag with a stab in the eye, but the gets shot in the shoulder by a cop who just showed up!
The cop’s appearance is so sudden that it’s like when a horror movie villain is able to teleport between cuts. How long was he there for? She only finished off Crispian seconds ago, so if he WAS there before that he did nothing to try and stop it. If he showed up AFTER he was dead, then he only had about five seconds to ascertain the situation, aim his gun and shoot. Even if that was the case, wouldn’t the cop try to ARREST her instead of shooting her? He didn’t say “FREEZE” or “HANDS UP.” He just went straight for gun. Anyway, the cop goes back to his squad car (he doesn’t have a partner) and calls for backup and an ambulance (didn’t even check to see if Erin was still alive or completely immobilized, and then goes through the front door. But wait! Erin set a trap on the front door earlier, remember? The movie ends with Erin shouting “NOOOO!!!!!” and the cop getting an axe to the face.
This movie is incredibly frustrating. There are some really cool ideas in this that do eventually get played out, but it’s just so predictable and boring for the first hour. Once things start moving, it becomes something original (though not groundbreaking) and is fun to watch. I didn’t mention this before, but the music gets so much better near the end when they start playing tracks that sound like early John Carpenter. Even if they music earlier was as good as it is later, you wouldn’t be able to hear it over the screaming from all the meat grinder characters. Near the end, we get some time with the killers who are basically hired psychopaths. They come off as angry teenagers who never really grew up, but learned how to effectively kill people. These are the guys who spent a lot of time watching terrible horror movies and wanted to be the killers, so they basically became mercenaries who use techniques you would find in those kind of movies. It explains why they were hired for the job (no one would suspect this to be hired killing because it’s so sadistic) and it explains why they’re wearing masks and leaving messages on the walls (they’re emulating their fictional heroes). It’s a brilliant idea for a movie, and it’s too bad that it takes so long to find out what these characters are about, because until then they’re faceless killers who aren’t all that interesting. So two thirds of this movie is forgettable crap, while the last third gives us what we were promised by all the hype surrounding this flick. Is it a good movie? I’m going to say… no. Then again, horror is one of those genres where the bad stuff can still be enjoyed on some level. This isn’t so bad that it’s good, but it does have some genuinely good parts to it that will make it worth seeking out if you enjoy watching these kind of horror films. It’s not the instant classic that some people were touting it to be, but despite its shortcomings, it has just enough that I would consider it worth checking out. Also, you could probably just fast forward to the good parts. It’s not like your gonna miss anything you haven’t seen a hundred times before.