This is another one of those movies that I had been recommended several times and kept seeing good things about but never really got around to seeing. Thus is the magic of Horrortoberfest. The movie barely skates along the edge of being a horror film and mostly feels like a psychological thriller. For most of the movie it feels more like a drama that looks into the way we deal with grief. When I say this is a slow burn of a movie, I mean that it is a sloooow burn and you have to be on board with something that isn’t interested in scares and spooks as much as just being uncomfortable.
The story follows Will and his girlfriend going to a dinner party put on by his ex-wife with the man she ran off with 2 years ago after their son died and also it’s taking place in the same house that he died. If that sounds like it’s an incredibly uncomfortable situation to be in then you would be correct and that’s pretty much the crux of the movie. His ex-wife, Eden, has returned after a retreat in Mexico all smiles and generally being at peace with what happened while Will is barely able to keep it together just being in the house. When he suspects something sinister might be going on is it real or is it just all part of the warped imaginings of a grieving mind.
This movie is not afraid to let you sit in the awkward and really marinate in it. Eden and David play gracious host but essentially make the evening feel like your friend just tricked you into coming over for a time share pitch. All the while Will is having repeated breakdowns acts suspicious of everything. I honestly spent most of the film feeling sorry for Kira, his girlfriend, because it had to be the worst on her. Being invited to a dinner party with a bunch of people you’ve never met under the most “yikes” inducing circumstances and your one lifeline keeps running off to star into the middle distance, leaving you alone with a host/hostess that seem like the intersection of cultist and swinger.
Spoiler: While the end of the movie eventually proves Will right in his suspicions; the horror of the suicide cult thing feels less about the deaths we see and more about the implied deaths you don’t see. David puts up a red lantern before they try to poison everyone but then at the end you see all these houses with red lights across the hills. All of these rich, L.A. assholes couldn’t figure out how to handle their loss and channeled it into the idea that they could just die and be reunited with their loved ones but it’s not enough to just kill yourself. No, you have to take all your friends with you because fuck their free will, right? This is the horror of selfish people being hurt and then even in trying to find peace, they can only think of themselves and what they want. I think the movie knows this as well because at the beginning, Will is quick to point out that the mansion was because Eden had money and not him,
Score: 4 out of 5. I can very much see this not being everyone’s cup of tea. The pacing and drama of it is definitely a different feel from your standard Halloween fright fest. That said, if you are on board with the psychological thriller aspect of it, I think it delivers on what it wants to do exceeding well.