In the prologue, a group of middle-class eco-warrior type young people in 1992 set up their tent in the woods, ready to protest about the new motorway. They have dreadlocks, facial piercings, bongo drums, spliffs and cans of Special Brew, but otherwise are not stereotypes, no not at all. No sooner do we see them walking around shining a torch in broad daylight, than it suddenly appears to be pitch dark night, and a psycho killer pops up. He dispatches them all in gruesome ways (just off camera) apart from one girl who escapes.
Cut to successful American novelist, Susan, and her male-model-looking partner, David, in some unspecified time zone presumably a few years after the opening sequence. She's moved to the English countryside to write her new book, so naturally she has bought an ancient house the size of a big country hotel. A mental breakdown in her past is mentioned, and I feel like I've already guessed the movie's twist at the end.
Before long, we're subjected to spooky-house horror film cliches and a couple of false jump scares, and things start to go downhill rapidly. For me, the biggest problem was the lead male actor, whose monotone line delivery and unconvincing performance kept taking me out of the story. He was so distracting that, during his scenes it was almost impossible for me to get into the story or the characters.
I was confused about the time period the story is set in. The prologue is early nineties. Yet the 'later' scenes at the house include 1970s/80s style rotary dial telephones but also a modern-looking car. I was also confused about what genre of horror film I was watching. It started like a serial killer/slasher film, then seemed to be about ghosts or supernatural, then went into psychological horror - by which time I'd given up trying to figure it out and lost interest.
When Susan and David hear an intruder downstairs, they catch the vicar lurking around inside their house - then invite him to join them for drinks. When Susan stumbles across a creepy, leery man having sex with a woman in the woods, she stands there staring at him, in full view, for quite some time. Shortly after, the man exposes himself at Susan and chases her. Her husband cheerfully introduces the scary man as the gamekeeper, and before long he's in the house alone with Susan, cooking her dinner. Er, hang on a minute...? And during this time, the husband is at a rubbish orgy where everyone wears swimwear or towels. These bizarre, nonsensical elements just added to my increasing irritation. And when the film's violent climax kicked in, I was completely disengaged from the events and characters.
The first main 'twist' revelation towards the end of the story is shout-at-the-screen predictable. There is a second twist, which is slightly more interesting, but by then it's too little, too late. To me it felt like a quick and convenient way to justify the prologue.
With no likeable or interesting characters, some distractingly unconvincing acting, improbable situations and reactions, nothing frightening or shocking, a sprinkling of horror cliches, and a story that simply annoyed me, I really can't recommend this film at all. Not even for a laugh.