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Stars: Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgard, Justin Long

Director: Zach Cregger

All horror films, to a greater or lesser extent, invite us to suspend our disbelief at their grisly goings-on. But the goings-on here are really too preposterous to bear. And little of its story makes any sense.

When Tess (Campbell) and Keith (Skarsgard) double-book a renovated house for a night or two in a derelict area of Detroit, why is the owner (Long), after they have both disappeared, told that no one has booked for the past fortnight? This is a pointless nonsense as it neither adds to or detracts from the structure of the film.

And people do even more stupid things than usual in these affairs. After Keith initially vanishes, Georgina gets (improbably) locked in the cellar, where she finds a rope that, when pulled, opens part of the wall. She follows the dark passage within to a lit room containing a camera, a soiled bed, and a bloody handprint (just the one?) on the wall.

Finding a door in the wall, she goes a long way down a darkened tunnel until she comes to a flight of stone steps that go down into darkness (the pit of Hell?). And then, of course, she...goes down them. Sorry, but by now you or I would be smashing down the cellar door and haring down the road towards the nearest town.

And it's ridiculous that the police, when she eventually escapes a creature below, don't believe a word of her story. Or that no one, save a local derelict, sees a 'crazy naked woman' who only comes out at night (how does she get out? Where does her food come from?). Or that two people could fall from a high water tower and both survive.

But enough. Let's just say that the film is well-made despite its multiple absurdities, and its action is skilfully staged for maximum effect. Horrific on the whole rather than scary, it should still fill the bill for gorehounds prepared to hang their brains in the cellar. Brit Campbell (a former BAFTA best actress winner) is terrific.

David Quinlan

USA/Bulgaria 2022. UK Distributor: Disney (Twentieth Century Studios). Agfa Colour.
102 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

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

Review date: 25 Oct 2022