First-time filmmaker Aselton creates one of the most assured thrillers in recent memory, throwing finely developed characters into a very nasty situation that makes us squirm in our seats. It's also a rare film that acknowledges how difficult it actually is to kill someone: no one dies as easily as they do in most Hollywood horror movies, and the psychological nastiness is even worse than the physical stuff.
The title refers to an isolated island off the coast of New England, where Sarah (Bosworth) is planning a reunion camping trip with her two childhood pals, Lou and Abby (Bell and Aselton). The problem is that Abby hasn't spoken to Lou for six years, following an unforgivable incident. So Sarah has to trick them into coming along, then convince them to bury the hatchet for a weekend on the island they used to visit as little girls. Just as they've reached a peaceful accord, they run into three cute young hunters (Bouvier, Paulson and Richardson). But after an evening of alcohol and flirting, things take a very dark turn, and the boys start hunting the girls through the woods. They may be armed, but these feisty women know their way round the island a lot better.
Even though the back-story is essentially very simple, it adds to the dynamic between these three women, creating characters we are interested in right from the start. And their dialog is smart and offhanded, bringing out lively humour, dark emotions and the tensions between these strong-minded women. Opposite them, the three ex-soldiers are also intriguing because they show signs of post-traumatic stress. So the girls know they will never give up looking for them: they can't just hide, they have to fight back if they want to survive.
Director Aselton and her writer husband Duplass keep the pace sharp, never wasting a moment as they continually play with our expectations and tease us with clues about where this is headed. Some of this makes the film feel a little predictable, but as the story gets increasingly violent and messy, there's also a sense that just about anything could happen. Which makes the whole movie rather exhilarating.