I will save your 8 bucks and two hours by telling you that this is the worst horror movie I’ve ever seen. I know I say that a lot but let me be clear, this really is the worst of the worst. I don’t even know why the fuck it’s called horror or in the genre of horror. I also have no idea how it’s getting all these great reviews because it was such a jumbled mess of fucking crap that the only actual explanation is that movie reviewers won’t call it crap since the main family in the movie is interracial and they fear backlash if they call the movie crap. Well, I don’t. This won’t be a spoiler free review so if you want to know why it’s awful keep reading but trust me, it’s bad.
The movie starts decently enough. It shows and an elderly man who is clearly sick and dying with something. His daughter is telling him goodbye and she loves him and she’s in some kind of hazmat mask. It’s at this point that her husband (white guy) and his son (black kid) wheel the grandpa (black guy) out to the forest, shoot him, dump him in a grave and burn his body. Later the mom (also black I’m only mentioning this to explain how it was about an interracial family) says that Travis was “too young” to see his grandfather getting shot to be put out of his misery and then burned.
Then, of course, they take a long ass period of time to show that Travis (the son) and Krisha (The mom) are all upset about the grandfather/father dying. Apparently, all of this is an allegory or something for the writer/creator who’s father was an alcoholic and died which is why he wrote this pile of crap movie that people for some reason think is great, maybe they were all drunk when they saw it I don’t know. Eventually, a guy breaks into their house and they immediately treat him like he’s infected. They tie him up and leave him outside for a fucking day to make sure he’s not infected. The main dude, Paul, constantly treats Will like he’s a liar and going to murder them at any second.
Will says he only broke into the house because he thought it was empty and he has a wife and kid and they need water and he can trade. He has stuff, two goats, and some chickens apparently. He also says that before he got out into the middle of nowhere he was living with his brother, wife, and kid, but his brother is now dead and it’s just them. This will become important to know later even if it’s stupid. Soon, Paul agrees to take Will back to his family. He tells his family if he doesn’t come back don’t look for him and he tells Will if he’s lying he’ll kill him.
They drive for about ten minutes and get shot at. This blows out the tire and/or they shot out the tire. Paul shoots one of the random guys and Will starts punching the shit out of the other. Paul gets Will off the guy and immediately shoots him. Will starts demanding why he did that so quick and Paul thinks that Will set him up. Will points out he was just jacking the guy’s face up but he thought maybe they could have at least gotten information from the guy before killing him because there might be more bandits around or something. Paul still finds him suspicious even though Will is the far more level-headed of the two.
As it turns out, Will isn’t lying and Paul soon returns with his wife, two goats, and some chickens. There’s a pointless montage of them getting along and working together and shit and whatever. Meanwhile during all of this every night Travis either has flashbacks or nightmares or hallucinations and by the way, that’s the only thing that comes at night. Nothing else. If you were expecting to see a monster or zombies or anything you won’t because yeah there’s nothing even though the fucking trailer and several times the actual movie implies there’s a monster out there.
One day while chopping firewood, which they did a lot even though you never saw them have an actual fire and it was explained they powered batteries through solar energy for their lights and shit, the dog runs off. Travis was taking care of the dog which apparently used to belong to his grandfather. It starts barking and then just runs off after freaking out. Also he bit Paul’s hand. Travis chases after him but the dad makes him stop then they go back to the house and agree that everyone is just going to stay inside for a few days except him and Will.
That night, Paul opens some scotch or something to share with Will. Then they talk about where they are from and what they used to do. Will says he was a mechanic and construction worker and whatever then mentions he’s an only child. Paul is all “But you said you had a brother” and then there is doubt put on Will for no damn reason. Will says that he was actually Sara’s brother (his wife) so he just FELT like a brother and Paul uses this as an excuse to be an asshole and go to bed.
Travis has some weird nightmares about fucking Sara, he also has some weird flirty conversations with her, not sure what that was about but it took forever and it was boring. If they were trying to get me to empathize with anyone it failed. The character I liked most was Will because he seemed to be the most level-headed in all of this and I mean the entire time but even still he was kind of insufferable just the least insufferable one.
The dad tells Travis that his dog will eventually come back even though the movie goes out of it’s way too fucking imply that something in the woods ate him or whatever cause he suddenly just stops barking after making a weird noise. Later that night, Travis can’t sleep (again) and he finds Andrew (the young child from the other couple) asleep in his grandfather’s old room. He wakes him up and takes him to his parents. Then he finds the red door (The only door that leads to the outside because the rest of the place is always boarded up) is open somehow. The dog is in there. It’s stomach clearly cut open. Travis runs to tell his dad that someone is in the house. The Paul and Will go in the room and see it’s the dog. They keep saying he’s sick but it literally looks like his stomach was cut open with a knife so I have no fucking clue. Also, the outside door was shut but the inner red door wasn’t so how the fuck did the dog even get in? They literally never explain this and no one seems concerned about it so don’t look for answers here.
Paul tries to accuse Andrew of sleepwalking AND Opening the door. Keep in mind this kid is like 3 so he couldn’t have ever reached the locks. Travis mentions he found Andrew asleep in the grandpa’s room and took him back to his parents then noticed the door was open. Now everyone thinks Andrew is infected completely randomly and they agree that they will each quarantine themselves in different rooms. Travis says to his mom if Andrew is sick then he’s sick too and she tells him he doesn’t know that. Travis has several annoying inception style dreams within dreams until he wakes up and hears Andrew crying. He sneaks out of there and hears the other family saying they want to leave. He wakes up his dad.
Paul and Krisha leave the bedroom with gas masks and their guns. They pretty much, for no reason at all, decide they have to kill the entire family because even if they let them leave they will totally come back and try to steal their food. Illogical as fuck. Mostly because all they had to do was lead them out and tell them if they come back they’ll be shot and that is that. Will already saw how Paul was so he’d pretty much believe it to be true but no, Krisha is dead set on killing all of them on the off chance that they come back.
Paul gets Will to open the door and finds out Will actually has a gun too. He aims it at Paul and tells him to come in and insists his son isn’t sick but won’t let Paul see his son and keeps telling his son to close his eyes (one of the symptoms of the disease is all black eyes) and the mom keeps hiding Andrew’s face. They say all they want is to leave and take some supplies and they won’t come back. Instead of just letting them do this they eventually get in a struggle where Paul and Krisha have all the guns back and take them outside. Will overpowers Paul at some point and starts bashing him in the face. It takes an irregularly long time for Krisha to shoot him even though she has a gun and can clearly see Will is going to kill her husband. Sara starts to run away with Andrew so her back is to Paul, keep that in mind.
Krisha shoots Will, finally, and Paul gets the gun and takes a shot at Sara’s back. Sara suddenly starts screaming that he killed her baby. WHICH MAKES NO GODDAMN FUCKING SENSE WITH HOW THEY WERE POSITIONED! There was like a 1% chance of Paul hitting the very top of that kid’s head and a 99% chance of him hitting Sara’s back. The only plausible way he would have, in reality, shot that kid was if he shot THROUGH Sara but nope, not what happened. She’s screaming at him for killing her baby so he shoots her too. They go back to the house. Travis is infected. The movie implies that a lot of the movie might have been dreams? Maybe? The movie ends with the parents doing nothing but looking horrified implying they know they are both infected too and it’s all over.
Shults knows he’s testing the audience by holding back. “I feel like my movie, and in particular in this genre, people want to know what’s going on, want it tied up and I’m not doing that, so it’s probably extra frustrating. For me, it’s like the storytelling I believe in and I don’t approach a movie on a genre to genre basis. I just approach movies all in the same way.” (Source)
This is a quote from the creator/director of the movie. Though I get the concept of an open ending or asking a lot of questions and leaving everything else open to interpretation, this only fucking works if the movie makes sense to fucking start with. Nothing about this movie makes sense, even the behavior of the people in the movie doesn’t make sense. If this is a “character study” on human nature well no shit people are going to act violent and paranoid if a fucking zombie-like virus just affected the whole world. Even if that were the case a shit ton of them act entirely contradictory to how humans would behave. For instance:
- Paul asks very few questions about Will. Like, what the world was like when he left, what was on the news, if there was any information on the virus.
- No one discussed the virus. At all. For any reason. Even when we had the whole “Ebola crisis” here EVERYONE fucking talked about it ALL the time and only three people were affected. The fact that all of the characters seemingly saw some massive devastation with this virus and NEVER talked about it, is very contradictory to human nature.
- Paul being as massively paranoid as he was. I mean over the top goddamn fucking paranoid. To a point where he ties up a man outside for twenty-four hours. They clearly had a room where they kept the grandpa when he was sick that was meant for that, why not keep Will there?
This movie is not horror it’s not anything. It falls into no genre other than self-serving piece of bullshit that may or may not be metaphorical for some reason. If Paul’s entire family had been white (or black) instead of interracial everyone would be calling this movie crap. I think people are stretching to tolerate or even enjoy this movie because “OMG SO PROGRESSIVE” when the reality of the situation was nothing was there. The only thing there was…well…some implication there might be a monster that comes into the woods at night. Which they implied several fucking times in the movie but, nope, no monster.
This is two hours of garbage. On Reddit I found this explanation:
Some of the scenes we thought were simply nightmares were actually flashbacks. The kid DID go outside that night to look for his dog. He DID see something attack it, infecting it, and still decided to bring it back to the house himself. He was careful enough to not get any blood on himself, but not careful enough to avoid infection.
During all the commotion, the small child wakes up and wanders around the house, where he ends up in the grandfather’s room. When the son comes back in, he rushes to bed, hoping nobody saw or heard him leave. He makes it back to bed safely, thinking nobody knows he left. At this point, he falls asleep and has nightmares about what he saw. This wakes him up, where he walks around and finds the kid in his grandpa’s room.
He takes him to bed and then realizes that he was in such a rush that he completely forgot to close the door. He then goes and wakes his dad and acts like he doesn’t know what’s on the other side of the door, but of course he does.
The irony of it all is the fact that he IS the one who got them all infected, not the small child. Bill’s entire family was innocent, and his parents had to murder a young couple and their child because their son screwed up. It was all his fault, because he couldn’t sit there and wait for his dog like his dad told him to. The final shot was the parents coming to terms with what they had just done because of their son, and what is going to happen to them shortly. (Source)
As much as I do agree this is the most plausible explanation, it’s absolutely not clear in the movie that any of this is going on. It’s very hard to tell what is a dream and what is a flashback and what are real events and what aren’t. Especially since if we are to believe this explanation then a lot of events Travis went through also led into dreams, and I mean immediately, with no indication that they stopped being flashbacks and suddenly became dreams.
This is a bunch of mishmashed ideas packed into 2 hours of snooze time in which none of the characters are relatable, likable, or logical. I felt the saddest for the dog. Which SOMEHOW GOT A HUMAN DISEASE. That also makes no sense. There are very few diseases communicable between dogs and humans, even if this could be transferred to animals, the fucking goats and chickens were fine, there were other animals around in the woods. So this dog is the only fucking animal that got it, somehow, but also when it was sick this disease made the sickness look like his stomach was cut open and he’d been attacked?
The creator/director apparently wrote this shit fest after his father died an alcoholism-related death and it “upset” him. That’s all this movie is. A self-serving piece of shit that fits into no genre other than “I personally got sad when my father died and I expressed it via screenplay which I probably only got funding for because I made the family interracial so people think it’s progressive”.
I’ve seen some SHITTY movies in my days but Jesus fucking CHRIST this one takes the cake and I really would have walked out of it, had I not been hoping the movie would pull it together in the end. It doesn’t. There’s no reason to see this and no reason it should have an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes other than possibly the SJWs or the wanna be “artsy” college film students who think this is brilliant because you can’t understand it so ergo it has to be a “genius” movie. Fucking skip it.