Beth and Daniel (King and Grillo) have just moved into their new home, and invite a group of friends over for a housewarming party. But things turn nasty very quickly when three crazed criminals burst into the house. The Koffin brothers - ringleader Ike (Flueger), brutal Addley (Kole) and injured baby brother Johnny (O'Leary) - used to live in this house. Soon their Mama (De Mornay) and sister Lydia (Woll) arrive, and they take the partiers hostage, horrifically tormenting them while trying to gather cash to make a run for Canada.
Shifting the action from an isolated campsite to a suburban house might have added an element of everyday menace, but the filmmakers never find anything we can engage with. The movie is slickly designed and shot, and played straight by a gifted cast despite the thinly developed characters. But everything's so manipulative that we're immediately annoyed. Constant attempts to wring emotion are appalling: everyone in this film is a violent, grotesque idiot. And this includes the victims.
It's also one of those films that quickly sidelines men as hapless while objectifying women, putting them in harm's way and blaming them for every nasty thing that happens. As the story progresses, there are revelations of an affair, escape attempts, a woman's head is set on fire and people are attacked with guns, knives and other handy implements. Meanwhile, there are pathetic attempts to make us feel sorry for the hostages, and also for Mama's children, who have clearly been groomed for violence their whole lives.
But all of this is so breathtakingly shallow that we see it for what it is: a way to stretch a series of graphic scenes of torture and murder out for nearly two long hours. By about the halfway point, we realise that there essentially isn't a plot at all and we cease to care if anyone survives the ordeal. So the climax and coda feel especially heartless.
Run time: 112 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 5th May 2011
Distributed by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Production compaines: LightTower Entertainment, Widget Films, Sierra/Affinity, Rat Entertainment, The Genre Co., Troma Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Fresh: 18 Rotten: 24
IMDB: 6.3 / 10
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Screenwriter: Scott Milam
Starring: Rebecca De Mornay as Natalie 'Mother' Koffin, Jaime King as Beth Sohapi, Patrick John Flueger as Izaak 'Ike' Koffin, Deborah Ann Woll as Lydia Koffin, Frank Grillo as Daniel Sohapi, Shawn Ashmore as George Barnum, Briana Evigan as Annette Langston