Garden variety ingredients have never been more chilling. This is one horror film where the standard horror zeitgeist works in the film’s favor. We have a couple on their first date and they, of course, decide to attend a party literally in the middle of nowhere. This is such a horror cliche that I tend to forget how perfect setting can be if done correctly. Lucy and Max (Alice Englert, Iain De Caestecker) venture into the outskirts of the city, travelling down isolated country roads in search of the party. It becomes obvious that they’re lost, but what puts them off course?
Despite the road signs, the couple can’t get their bearings, forcing the viewer to decide if something supernatural is leading them down dark paths. The tension builds as they pass the same landmarks over and over. Concern quickly turns to fear and they find themselves second-guessing things. Director Jeremy Lovering knows how to create terror and suspense, using the creepy location and score to his terrifying advantage. Every wrong turn takes them farther away from safety and the date turns sour. Then, out of nowhere, an injured man appears and they offer him passage in their Land Rover. I’ll say no more and let you discover everything on your own.
Lovering captures the palpable horror with perfectly executed angles; close-ups of their panicked faces, hands gripping the wheel tightly, whirring trees pass by, all designed to give you a panic attack. The actors were only given key parts of the script, forcing the couple to rely on their improvisational skills. Once again, my worst fears of being trapped out of America, comes home to roost. The failing cellphones, foreign landscape, and sense of isolation serves the film well, and will surely stand out among recent horror offering.