Even though this is an extremely well-made film, it's difficult to know who will enjoy it, as it's far too arty for horror genre fans and much too grisly for arthouse moviegoers. But those who like something a bit different will enjoy it, especially since this remake takes a very different approach to the original 2010 Mexican film. Both films are about families who indulge in cannibalism as a long-standing tradition, but the similarities end there.
This version is set in small-town America, where an unusual number of young women have gone missing over the years, and a recent flood has unearthed human remains downriver from the Parker family farm. Frank Parker (Sage) is in mourning after his wife dies in the storm, and responsibility for the family's Lambs Day feast now falls to eldest daughter Iris (Childers), assisted by younger siblings Rose and Rory (Garner and Gore). But Iris is reluctant to carry out the gruesome tradition, and would rather hang out with cute young Deputy Anders (Russell). Meanwhile, Frank is increasingly worried about nosey neighbour Marge (McGillis) and the investigations of the local doctor (Parks) and sheriff (Damici).
"This is what we do," the Parkers remind themselves as they prepare their dinner of human stew. And screenwriters Mickle and Damici really dig into the family's past, which stretches to events nearly 240 years earlier, stirring American history into the intriguing cultural subtext. Mickle also remembers to freak us out with hints and suggestions in every scene, from ominous noises in the Parker's shed to a secret journal that outlines the family's traditions. The actors play their roles just below the surface, with muted emotions and subtle glances that tell us more than dialogue ever could.
On the other hand, this subdued approach makes this an unusually quiet horror movie, never quite cutting loose to properly scare us. Instead, Mickle uses black humour and dark yearning to unsettle us, then shocks us with moments of sudden, surprisingly beautiful violence. He also plays knowingly with the depressed economy of this kind of town, adding to the film's downbeat vibe all the way to an uncharacteristically over-the-top climax. This certainly isn't like any other horror film we've seen before, and that fact alone makes it worth a look.
Run time: 105 mins
In Theaters: Friday 25th October 2013
Box Office USA: $76.6k
Distributed by: Entertainment One
Production compaines: Belladonna Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 69 Rotten: 12
IMDB: 5.8 / 10
Director: Jim Mickle
Producer: Rodrigo Bellott, Andrew Corkin, Nicholas Shumaker, Jack Turner
Screenwriter: Nick Damici, Jim Mickle
Starring: Bill Sage as Frank Parker, Ambyr Childers as Iris Parker, Julia Garner as Rose Parker, Michael Parks as Doc Barrow, Wyatt Russell as Deputy Anders, Kelly McGillis as Marge, Nick Damici as Sheriff Meeks, Jack Gore as Rory Parker, Kassie DePaiva as Emma Parker