Five American college friends head off to the countryside for a break in a relative’s remote cabin in the woods. Only trouble is, they’re being tracked by a couple of evil old blokes (Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford) at the computerised controls of a weird corporate organisation clearly up to no good.

There’s grim foreboding as a crazy man menaces them at a gas station along the way, and, after they arrive at the cabin, there’s a scary old painting on the wall, which, when removed, reveals a two-way mirror to the next-door bedroom, and then there’s the cellar…

The five kids are the usual suspects. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) plays Curt the jock, Anna Hutchison is Jules the gorgeous blonde, Jesse Williams is Holden the smart guy, Fran Kranz is Marty ‘the loveable stoner and Kristen Connolly is Dana the virgin (maybe). It’s as basic as that.

The quintet soon oblige with the traditional route of sex, drugs, swimming in the lake and splitting up to get picked off one by one in nasty ways. And the actors duly oblige by taking their shirts off to reveal their perfectly sexy bodies, before…

Well, of course, the less you know the better about the plot of this incredibly inventive horror movie that puts several new spins on the old situations. It’s a non-stop rollercoaster of scares, thrills and chills, though that does kick up a problem or two. One is credibility, or to put it another way, does it make any sense at all? It’s so desperate to please it chucks in even the proverbial kitchen sink. The other is, once it’s geared up into top, it’s so scared of slowing down for a moment that it can’t build up much in the way of tension or characters you care about.

Nevertheless, it’s a huge fun ride with a full cargo of nervy laughs as well as grisly deaths. And the actors help, particularly Kranz, who makes the stoner funny and surprising, and the Jenkins-Whitford double act.

Slickly, eye-catchingly done, with hugely impressive visuals and effects, this is highly recommended to all the many horror fans out there.

Verdict: bring on the sequel, guys! 3/5

Copyright of Derek Winnert 2012