Director – Bryan Bertino
Cast – Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, Glenn Howerton, Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis
Release Year – 2008
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Here’s a 2008 horror film that took me quite a long while to see, at first I was interested, but then lost interest when I started hearing how it was somewhat of a letdown. I was first thinking the film was going to follow the lines of Funny Games, it really didn’t, and actually as a bit better than I was expecting it to be.
This film starts off with a young couple arriving at an isolated vacation home after partaking in a wedding reception. There is tension between them due to an event that occurred at the wedding reception. They settle in for the night, but before they can sleep they receive a strange knock on the door from a weird woman asking for someone who doesn‘t even live there. After a few more weird events the couple begins to realize that they are being played around with by three masked people outside, as well as inside their home. The upcoming events in the film will challenge them to do things they have never done before, as well as reconcile their relationship with the hopes of making it out alive.
As I mentioned earlier, this film really did surprise me with how good it was. This was director Brian Bertino’s first film as a director, and he did a damn good job at creating suspense without actually seeing anything, which I found amazing. That is seriously the greatest aspect of this film. For the first 30 minutes or so, we really do not “see” anything involving the “strangers”. We are bombarded with sounds, and atmosphere that really set the mood for this surprisingly good thriller. After watching the DVD commentary I was reassured that the production of this film relied heavily on sound effects, with much time and work put into making the sounds really set the movie. I also enjoyed how the “strangers” looked, talked, and walked. They do not say much, but when they do, it reminds you of that crazy Swimfan type of girl you dated in high school. You remember…right? No? Only I did that? Ok. Anywho, the masks they wore were pretty sweet, especially the corn sack(I think?) wearing guy, who somewhat reminded me of that freaky little kid with the corn sack over his head in The Orphanage.
My biggest complaint about this film? The fact that the first half was really great and suspenseful, and the second half of the film lost that edge and just became a cliché slasher flick. Don’t get me wrong, although I love slasher flicks, I really felt that this film should have kept going with what they had in the first half. Why give up an epic first half in order to have a decent, and I mean DECENT second half? I also had a problem with the ending of this film, it wasn’t really a bad ending, but I feel that it copped out by not giving us anything really special. The ending was just about as mediocre as the second half of the film. Seriously, if they kept the second half just as intense and terrifying as the first half, this film would have been much better, rated higher, and quite possibly been the best horror film of 2008 under Sweden‘s Let the Right One In.
Overall, this is a good film and should be a prime example that you can create fear and tension without needing to really show anything, you just have to be creative and let the viewer freak themselves out. Even with the mediocre second half of the film, this film still managed to be a pretty good watch altogether.
– I listed this film as an “Honorable Mention” in my Top 10 Horror Movies of 2008 post.