Far more satisfying then FEARDOTCOM or HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION (both 2002), which exploit superficially similar ideas, this tightly constructed horror tale puts a compelling twist on one of the oldest set-ups in the horror repertory: a small group of people trapped in a scary house with someone out to get them. Five young people apply to participate in a Big Brother-style reality show, sharing an isolated house for six months while hidden cameras broadcast their every move online. It's midwinter and they don't know where they are; there's no TV, telephone, computer access or radio. Food and supplies are dropped in the nearby woods under cover of darkness. If all the contestants last the full six months, they share $1,000,000. If anyone leaves, everyone loses. After a montage of video auditions that introduce naïve, reserved Emma (Laura Regan), fame-hungry sex-pot Charlie (Jennifer Sky), money-hungry Rex (Kris Lemche), insecure Danny (Stephen O'Reilly) and handsome, quietly confident Matt (Sean C W Johnson), the film flashes forward to the last week of the sixth month. Everyone's tired of the isolation, the arbitrary rules, the canned food and, most of all, each other. They're short on supplies and the heat shuts down; a new supply package arrives containing nothing but a stack of bricks and a letter telling Danny his beloved grandfather has died. If he stays in the house he'll miss the funeral. The others persuade him to stay, but the pressure is officially on: Emma finds "sick bitch" scratched into the frost on her window, Charlie catches Rex hoarding supplies and Emma finds a pair of her panties in Danny's room. A second package arrives, containing a bottle of champagne and a loaded gun. Is the sponsor putting the screws to the housemates to spice up the show, or is someone stalking them? Until it tips its hand about three-quarters of the way through, this reality-spook show is truly creepy, mostly because screenwriters David Hilton and James Watkins crack what may be the toughest nut of old-dark-house thrillers — providing a plausible and compelling reason why the victims-to-be don't leave the minute scary things start happening. Welsh director Marc Evans makes effective use of odd angles, multiple-screen images and green-tinted night-vision shots, all accompanied by the persistent whir of closed-circuit camera lenses adjusting focus as they track the housemates. Released theatrically in the UK, negative test-audience reaction doomed this claustrophobic thriller to home video release in the US.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: R
- Review: Far more satisfying then FEARDOTCOM or HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION (both 2002), which exploit superficially similar ideas, this tightly constructed horror tale puts a compelling twist on one of the oldest set-ups in the horror repertory: a small group of people… (more)