Reviews | Written by Katherine McLaughlin 02/07/2013


Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, the duo who brought us the emotionally intelligent and tense feature A Horrible Way to Die and also contributed to recent horror anthologies The ABCs of Death and V/H/S, team up again to deliver a gloriously gory and highly entertaining home invasion horror whose wit is as sharp as an arrow (you'll see where we're going with that in a moment...).

A family gathers in their holiday home, a mansion in the woods, to celebrate their parents’ 35th wedding anniversary. Paul and Aubrey Davison have spawned a clan of spoilt, greedy brats with no real regard for one another. Crispian, Drake, Felix and Aimee are highly competitive and shallow beings who vie against one another. Their partners are a mixed bag; Erin is a kind companion to Crispian, Zee alongside Felix seethes with disdain at the whole family, whilst Aimee’s beau is an underground documentary filmmaker who Drake and his partner Kelly taunt with their droll dinner conversation.

As played by a cast dotted with luminaries of the mumblecore and indie horror crowd, this unlikeable, filthy rich bunch are vividly sketched in before the killings commence. Then an arrow from an unknown assailant crashes through the grand dining room window bringing the feast to an end and striking the first victim straight through the head. This dramatic start to the terror points towards Robin Hood style tactics and motives behind the attack, though this band of merry men are cloaked in animal masks. The family members are taken down one by one but a fierce final girl, the Australian Erin, who just happens to have been raised on a survivalist compound, stands up and defends herself to the very end refusing to be a pawn in this sick power game.

Sharni Vinson gives it her all in her performance as Erin, as she outfoxes and overcomes her attackers, and you’re sure to be cheering her on in her endeavour. Joe Swanberg delivers a master class in vile smugness as the entitled Drake – every word out of his mouth is gold thanks to Barrett’s sharp-witted script. Much fun is had with all the performances. Alongside the chopping, garrotting and blood-splattering, the humour and detail ensures this film demands your attention; think Arrested Development crossed with The Strangers. Eloquent camera-work and deft execution leads to an energetic rampage through moral turpitude as tables keep turning and bodies keep falling in this unapologetically fun horror film.

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