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Stars: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, Amy Seimetz, A J Bowen, Sarah Myers, Rob Moran, Barbara Crampton, Ti West

Director: Adam Wingard

Despite its plethora of (far too) gory killings, Adam Wingard's horror film is really a bit of a laugh. The culprit is Simon Barrett's po-faced script which, despite the director's control of the action, raises a laugh at every turn, at times verging on an unintentional parody of the genre.

Three (or is it four?) killers wearing animal masks and armed with crossbows, slaughter a couple in their country home, then move in on the Davisons, assembled at the huge house across the way for a family reunion - their parents' anniversary. We know from watching Agatha Christie thrillers that these gatherings soon end in murder, but this is something else.

There are 10 in the assembled company - the parents, three brothers, a sister and assorted partners - but their numbers are soon whittled down when arrows come whistling through the windows; and one of the killers is already in the house.

One of the brothers' girlfriends, Australian Erin (Vinson), however, has stronger survival instincts than most, and it's on her that the action focuses. And that's as grisly as the director can make it, with heads, eyes and necks proving favourite targets. No one on either side ever delivers one blow to a victim where a dozen will do.

The actual plot makes no sense when you rake it over, and the twist two-thirds of the way through takes some swallowing. There's a gimmicky ending, too, which you'll see coming from a long way off.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour (unspecified).
93 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 24 Aug 2013