One horror I had heard good things about and wasn’t a supernatural fright fest (shudder) or a remake. This has a wealthy family gathering together in their secluded mansion(!) for some occasion; three brothers, a sister and various girlfriends and boyfriends. Now as shown in the opening scene, some masked killers like to break into houses and slaughter the inhabitants, leaving the eerie message ‘you’re next’ written in blood for the next intended victim to see. Not a bad set up and fairly familiar territory if you’ve seen movies like The Strangers.
A cast of unknowns (except for an ageing Barbara ‘Re-Animator’ Crampton and horror director Ti West) are the fodder for the intruders, who are seen wearing weird animal masks and slaying people in increasingly gory but not all that inventive ways (bar a fun wire trick). The acting is amateurish, and most of the characters fairly unlikable even if a gutsy heroic female quickly proves the most interesting (with good ‘Nancy out of A Nightmare On Elm Street’ DIY survival skills).
Director Adam Wingard (V/H/S) delivers some effective shocks and has put together a competent if unsurprising horror with lashings of gore, a touch of nudity and lots and lots of screaming. A little more personality thrown around would have been a bonus and sometimes characters acted with alarming stupidity (lets go and have a lie down whilst house is being attacked by psychopaths??) … but if you’re after a slasher that doesn’t hold back and with a couple of fun twists … this still does the job.
When I first heard about this home-invasion horror, I immediately thought it might be a remake of French chiller Ils / Them. Telling the tale of a young couple who after attending a party, return to the man’s parent’s secluded house in the woods. All is not well. A proposal has been turned down and suddenly all is not well with the once smitten duo. Then there is a knock at a door. A girl’s voice asks after a friend, who the couple don’t know. What follows is a night of pure terror and torment as the couple try to survive against a trio of homicidal masked nutjobs.
Liv Tyler may not be a-list leading lady material, having made her name in art-house hits such as Stealing Beauty, and then of course her role in Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, but along with her obvious good looks, she makes for a likable, if limited actress. This movie won’t exactly set her career into orbit though, with a script filled with clichés (yes, she falls over and hurts herself when running, groan…) and a fair bit of predictability. Supporting Tyler is a bland Scott Speedman who more often than not leaves his terrified girlfriend alone rather than protect her, and I even began thinking he was to do with the whole home invasion-thing. Now that would have been original. Thankfully director BrynBertino shows a degree of skill behind the camera, with some effective jump-scares, atmospheric camera work and bags of tension. Although like Them, this is a movie that answers no questions, where the villains are just that, villains … and even though I get it, I understand what the movie was trying to do … this ultimately left me feeling unsatisfied.
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