An example of a great, inventive, and horrifying trapped in the secluded house with a menacing force trying to get in.

The story follows a deaf woman who is spending time away in a house deep in the woods. One night a man in a mask shows up and starts to toy with her and torment her with the intent of killing her. The woman has to overcome and get clever in order to survive the night.

From the very opening moments this film uses the medium brilliantly to tell the story. The camera moves in a circular motion around the main character Maddie as she writes on her computer. There is noise going on in the house all around her, but as the camera moves into her perspective the sounds fade away and the movie shows rather than tells the audience that she is deaf. It is an inventive use of the medium to convey information. The director is Mike Flanagan who is the hottest name in horror right now with good reason. His ability to use film and craft terrifying scenarios is on a whole other level from his peers.

The script is also incredibly clever and smartly written. The characters actions and ideas make sense. It’s not like most scary movies where people hide in the closet or under the bed even though that’s the dumbest place to hide. The characters here are intelligent people who use the tools at their disposal to try to succeed. There’s the cliche of people watching a horror movie and telling the characters on the screen what to do… “don’t go into the basement!” “hit the killer don’t run away” “Get out of there!” In this movie, the characters actually do exactly what you tell them to do. It’s fun to watch a movie in which the characters are just as smart as the audience.

Another wonderful aspect to this movie is the fact that its lead is not weak or victimized. This isn’t so much a critique of this movie as it is an observation about how this movie stand apart from other movies. Most horror movies like this the female lead is weak and only survives the situation by sheer luck or because the script says she has to. Here this woman takes charge of her situation and fights back. After so many slasher movies this woman is a strong and refreshing change.

It’s not a perfect movie. It has flaws and a few missteps, but the overall experience of the movie, the tension, the thrill, the intelligence of the script and the fact that it respects its audience all make up for any failings the movie has.

Definitely check this one out. It’s streaming on Netflix and is a wonderful addition to anyones Halloween experience. – Definitely my cup of tea. A+

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