Finally I get to see this movie. Though it's a been a while and I only watched it once, so my memory might be a little foggy. But just to start things off, to be honest this movie was a mixed bag. I get why they were trying to pay homage to the home invasion movies of the 70's and 80's, though I'm not a big fan of those movies, I appreciate the effort.
The Story: College Student Erin and her boyfriend Crispan, who's her professor by the way, goes to visit his family at their Missouri vacation home. Along with the parents, Crispan's siblings also pays a visit with their significant others. During a heated argument between Crispan and his Waspy brother Drake, an arrow, out of nowhere, hits Drake in the back while another hits their younger sister's boyfriend fatally in the head. This......is when all hell breaks loose. Now the family has to find various ways to survive the night while being under surveillance by a group of intruders invading their home....
The acting was great for the most part but I thought the characters were kind of bland. With the exception of the female lead of course. First let me start off with the family: Crispan is a whiny, insecure emotional sponge, Drake is a selfish, arrogant, and overall asshole, and Felix is a lazy, careless hipster-wannabe loser. Mr. and Mrs. Davison and younger sister Aimee are the only decent people in the family. There's not much to say about their spouses either: Aimee's boyfriend barely gets a word of dialogue before getting the ax, Drake's wife is a frosty bitch, and Zee is a sort of quiet, weird Goth girl. I pretty much went through all the characters and their characterizations, nothing to write about really. But again, the actors brought more to the characters than the writers could.
I thought AJ Bowen was kind of charming in most parts and dare I say that he's a very handsome man, maybe it's the beard.
It's good to see Barbra Crampton is still fabulous in her fifties and did a good job for the most part, playing the role of the paranoid matriarch. Although her part was pretty minimal, it's kind of great to see her back in a mainstream movie again.
Even though his character was jerk for most of the time, Joe Swanberg was kind of funny and witty with his line delivery. And from what I hear, he's pretty good indie director, so I might check out his material sometime.
Now I have to save the best for last. The best character in the movie by far is Erin played by the awesome Sharni Vision. She is sort of a mix of Ripley and Nancy Thompson and is the only character that has an interesting backstory. Her father was an extreme survivalist....which means she spent most of her childhood on a survivalist camp. Once things start going apeshit, Erin is the one who is calm and collected, practically taking over the situation while everyone else starts freaking out.
It's been a long while since I seen a kickass heroine in a horror film and it's kind of refreshing. Erin is in control and that's why my focus is on her most of the time. She is by far the coolest character in this movie.
Now onto the story. The only problem I have with this is that I've heard it before. But I can see that the filmmakers were going for a retro feel which is why the went with a more simple, run of the mill plot. But what they lack in story and characters, they make for everything else. The scenes in the film are actually suspenseful. And When the violence hits you, it hits you hard. Don't think I'm giving this movie too much credit. I'm not saying it's scary, it's just well-crafted in the more tense moments.
But I will give credit to the cool animal masks. I don't know, it's just something about animal masks that are creepy and awesome. It also works for the tone of the movie, having the ominous onlookers appear in dark shadows and open windows.
The other thing I give praise to is the twist. Yes, There is a twist in the movie. Now for those of you who haven't seen the movie, I advise you to skip this at your own risk. Okay let's begin:
Felix and Zee are the ones who set up the whole thing. They a hired a trio of hitmen to kill their parents (and most of the rest of the family) to inherit their lump sum of life insurance. I always thought there was something sketchy about those two, especially Zee, who gets her kicks off of having sex with a dead body laying around. Ugh, weirdo. But that's not the thick of it, there is an unlikely third accomplice who's in on it too.....
And that's Crispan. And all this time he came off like a loveable dork when he was the true villain after all. Though I don't think I liked Crispan in the first place. Thankfully, Erin takes care of all of them.
So it had a pretty cool twist along with the slick directing, charismatic actors and atmospheric tone. But I wish there was more to offer with the characters and whatever black humor there was in the film, I couldn't find. It just felt uneven. It's enjoyable to watch but noting special really. Sure, it has all the positive reviews now but in another 10 or 20 years or so, people would go "meh, been there, done that."
My Last word: A cool slick slasher but with just a little icing on the cake would make the film a bit more memorable.