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House invasion horror movies: you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all, right?

People get knocked off one by one until the ‘final girl’ is left battling to defend herself. Not so, as horror aficionado director Adam Wingard (V/H/S) shows with his latest. 

It all begins according to expectations. Aussie Sharni Vinson’s Erin heads out to a remote country house (big old building, lots of creaking floorboards, no one else around for miles) with her boyfriend for a weekend with his family. But they are only moments into the first group dinner before the bickering begins. Then an arrow flies in through the window, obviously, and they find themselves under siege. 

What follows is a particularly grisly account as the family are picked off by animal-mask-wearing intruders. There are stabbings, some get garotted, some mashed in the cranium with a hammer – but what sets the film apart from others of its ilk is the surprising route the story takes as to who is responsible and who might make it out. Erin is far from an “I need saving!” victim, we’ll say that much.

It also has a none darker sense of humour that chimes with the horror and makes it all the more unsettling – a humour that sits alongside the eviscerating without detracting from it; comedy not intended to take you out of the moment.

It doesn’t quite manage to emerge from its genre origins into something more, but where so many horror flicks are content to merely serve up the same old, same old, writer Simon Barrett keeps you guessing right to the end, and Vinson is great value as the unpredictable femme fatale in the middle of it all. 

Starring: Sharni Vinson, AJ Bowen | 18 | 95mins | On general release August 28 

Good for
: Laughing while watching between your fingers.


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