As you may know I am not a major fan of the horror film genre. Part of the reason has to do with the characters that are employed for the story. I do not find zombies, mutants, vampires or any other such fictional beings to be inherently frightening. Sure their actions may make me squirm in my seat; however, I find reality can be scarier than fiction. When riding public transportation I no longer have my cell phone or MP3 player visible. When there is snow and ice on the road I am scared of aggressive drivers who cut in front or tailgate me, making no allowances for winter conditions. There is another group of people that truly frighten me. Individuals with fanatical, extreme views make me uncomfortable. I have witnessed their hateful actions. As far as they are concerned if you do not follow their beliefs then you are damned. For me this is scarier than any horror movie I have seen until now. In this film festival winning movie, writer and director Kevin Smith (Clerks franchise, Chasing Amy) put his own spin in creating this horror tale. After setting up an online date to meet Sara, played by Melissa Leo (Prisoners, The Fighter); friends Travis, Jarod and Billy Ray, played by Michael Angarano (Almost Famous, Sky High), Kyle Gallner (Jennifer’s Body, Beautiful Creatures) and Nicholas Braun (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Watch), headed out to meet her for a good time. The boys did not know Sara was part of a radical fundamentalist group that was on the radar of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. This action thriller surprised me with the way it took something that could have easily been in the news and twisted it to a bigger extreme. Besides having the very capable Melissa Leo easily handling her character, I felt the movie received a boost by the presence of John Goodman (Argo, Inside Llewyn Davis) as federal agent Joseph Keenan. If you believe people could not be so extreme with their beliefs then you might not enjoy this action thriller. I found the story credible and could see it taking place, though maybe not to the level it reached; at least I hope so. As a complete film I found a few parts that did not make much sense; maybe it was trying to be satirical and I was not sure. For the fact this was a different take on the horror genre, it kept my interest even with several bloody scenes. Putting the idea for this story in proper perspective, one only has to take a look at our history of the past several decades. I cannot think of any recent horror film that would be scarier than encountering some of the characters in this bloody movie.
2 1/4 stars — DVD