"What I want you to try and understand is that you mustn't."
The film initially draws you in with its formulaic narrative and reference to other contemporary horrors such as Cabin Fever (2002), The Grudge (2004) and The Haunting in Connecticut (2009). A group of stereotypical teenagers (jock, slut, nerd, stoner and virgin), going on a stereotypical holiday in the woods, and meeting a stereotypical man the middle of nowhere who scares them; these genre clichés hint at another run of the mill horror, but in fact the film is quite the opposite.
An underlying theme of consumerism runs throughout the film. We are introduced to the characters Hadley (Bradley Whitford) and Sitterson (Richard Jenkins), vending machine coffee fuelled, tequila shout drinking gamblers are not presented as bad people – they make us laugh, despite their job being, for lack of a better word, sick.
The true presentation of consumerism this film calls into question is the consumption of horror films and our expectation of the genre tropes. There is a strong feeling throughout that the film is playing a game with its audience as well as its clueless, fun-seeking cast members, none more so than stoner Marty (Franz Marty) who we are interpolated to love from the moment he is introduced – hot-boxing his car with a stylishly inventive bong that folds down to look exactly like a flask; genius.
For spectators who like to try and guess the story before it fully unfolds, you will have a field day with this. This is why this film is so successful, because they are saying: “don’t go into the cinema with expectations, you are our puppets and we are going to turn, twist and rip your expectati