This was a brilliant film from start to finish. The dialogue was as sharp as you’d expect of a Joss Whedon series (such as Buffy, Angel, Firefly) and the set-up almost feels like a supernatural Saw movie (in that the victims are trapped in a maze of twisted traps, only this time as ritual sacrifice and no torture).
The film starts with a scenario which makes you feel like you’re about to see a film you’ve seen a hundred times before. A group of teens visit a cabin in the woods, a strange guy at a remote filling station gives them the creeps and suggests turning back, they go to the cabin anyway, and before they know it something nasty is out to pick them off one-by-one. However, where this film differs is in its execution. They’re actually in an elaborate cage, where they unwittingly pick the method of their own slaughter. A team in suits are taking a betting pool on what will kill them and are watching the events through a series of hidden cameras, whilst fixing the outcome with various substances introduced in gaseous form.
I don’t want to give too much away, but there were moments that reminded me of Season 4 Buffy‘s Initiative, and moments of dialogue that just had me laughing despite the terror being dished out. There are also some Evil Dead and Hellraiser nods (the latter in the form of a puzzle-sphere that Chris Hemsworth toys with at one point). There are cameos from old Whedon favorites too, in the form of Amy Acker and Tom Lenk.
The fact that this film has been shelved for 18 months during MGM’s financial difficulties does not show, as the film looks as fresh as anything released recently. It moves at a swift pace for its 90 minutes and left me wanting to go back in and see it again for anything I may have missed first time round.
My only criticism would be that it had a bit of a daft ending, but even then, it is in keeping with the light-hearted nature of this fun horror film, so I can’t knock it down too much for that.
A really fun and enjoyable horror film that breathes new life into (what has been of late) an ailing genre.