Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, the tenuous order a man (Joel Edgerton) has established with his wife and son is put to the ultimate test with the arrival of a desperate family seeking refuge. Despite the best intentions of both families, paranoia and mistrust boil over as the horrors outside creep ever-closer, awakening something hidden and monstrous within the man as he learns that the protection of his family comes at the cost of his soul.
I’ll get into a detailed review which will contain some spoilers a little later. You’re safe to keep reading for now, and I’ll warn you before the spoilers arrive.
First and foremost, I thought this movie was excellent. It’s everything I’ve come to love about slow-burn, psychological thrillers. Even more, it really plays upon the concepts of the unknown as well as trust (or mistrust).
As the synopsis said, it takes place in a desolate home built deep in the woods. The movie opens with husband and son killing the son’s grandfather because he’s become ill with a horrible disease. The disease is part of the problem plaguing the world, because the family takes precautions to always have gas masks and heavy rubber gloves on whenever they interact with the outside world.
The tension and dread continues to increase as you see the family secure themselves back into the house at night. The windows are all boarded up, and there is only one entrance/exit into the house. With them as well, is a family dog that acts as an alarm whenever anything is near.
The shit hits the fan when a man breaks into the house looking for supplies. You learn the man was scavenging for his wife and young son who he left at an abandoned house some miles away. They are running out of water and will die soon without any help. Long story short, the two families decide to help one another, and they all join forces in the rural homestead.
Here’s a fair warning, this movie doesn’t hand you everything on a silver platter, and it will leave some questions unanswered or up to viewer interpretation. If you’re someone who can’t stand not knowing for sure what happened, then this probably isn’t the movie for you.
I give it a 4/5 stars.
Now…onto the spoiler section. You’ve been warned.
Early on, the boy’s grandfather dies when they drag his body outside, shoot him in the head, then burn the body. The movie never tells you why they burn body, so we are left to wonder if it is to stop the spread of the disease, or if it is to maybe stop the dead from coming back. There’s another scene with the man burning the bodies of a couple of dead highway who he had to kill.
The boy dreams about his grandfather after his death, and sees him as thing with all-black eyes and a bloody mouth. It could be post-traumatic stress manifesting, or it could be something else. I like to think his dreams are almost prophetic, and here’s why.
We also see some of the boy’s drawings, one of which depicts two shadowy figures with black eyes crawling through the woods. I think this hints towards the possibility that the disease changes folks into deadly creatures, and that’s what is out there, hence the reason to burn the bodies.
After the dog incident, there is suspicion that the other family’s child had gotten too close to the dead dog, because when they found the dog, the front door was already open. This raises the suspicion that perhaps the child may be infected, so, as a precaution, the families separate and quarantine themselves into separate rooms until the threat of disease has passed (in this story, the disease can manifest symptoms as early as a day).
At some point the second family tries to leave. We are led to suspect that perhaps the boy is sick. The original family knows they can’t let them go, because the family knows too much about the location of the house, what’s here, plus they are afraid that the family will want to take too much with them. A confrontation ensues resulting in the death of the second family to include the child. The child was only four or five, so it was hard to watch being a father myself. You never see any details, but it was still effective, more so if I’m being totally honest. Yet the movie never confirms whether or not the child had the disease, we never see proof.
In my opinion, this tactic was way more effective, as it will drive multiple versions of the story depending on who is watching it. There is a lot more going on in this film than I have put down in this review, but if you like slow-burn horror that doesn’t rely on gore and jump scares (there were a couple), then this is the show for you. See it.