I don't use the phrase "brilliant" to describe a horror movie very often, but this film is flat-out BRILLIANT. I rented it on sheer impulse from RedBox yesterday afternoon while picking up a prescription for my mother in law, and when my daughter Rachel and I decided to watch a movie together before bed, we bumped this one up in the queue ahead of A NIGHT IN THE WOODS (which was unwatchably bad, as it turned out).
Nick DiSanto is a pleasant 23 year old man who has been cursed with an awful ability: sometimes, when he touches someone, he foresees the manner of their death. This ability has made it tough for him to form friendships or find romance. At the beginning of the film, he is visiting his mother in an insane asylum. She is trying to tell him something about his father, but is too distraught and terrified to get the words out, and at one point, he reaches out to touch her - and foresees her bursting into flames. Distraught, he flees the room, and later that night, after he has picked up a girl in a bar and taken her home, he hears on the news that the asylum where his mother was held has burned to the ground, with over 80 fatalities.
Eight months later, he attends the reading of the will and finds that his mother has left him the deed to a house in a small village called River's End. When he sees the photograph of the house, he realizes that this is the house he has been drawing since he was a toddler. As an architect, he is still making sketches of it between designs. But when he sets out to find River's End, he discovers the entire village no longer exists - swept away in a flood 23 years before. But some of the locals whisper that the old house is still intact, having been swept downstream and deposited, undamaged, in the woods miles from its original site.
He and his friends set out to find it, and run into a state surveying crew along the way. The three surveyors - Sam, Lilith, and Chris - mention they have heard rumors of the strange house deep in the woods, and agree to help Nick try to find it. Sure enough, they follow a trail deep into the forest, and there is the house, completely intact, in a clearing, having fetched up against a giant tree. As they try to figure out how the house stayed in one piece, a mysterious man named Seth comes out and warns them away. When Nick informs him that he now owns the house, Seth invites him in, briefly, and warns him that the place is cursed and his deed is worthless. Then mysterious axe wielding figures show up from the forest and chase them all away, killing the surveyor named Sam.
Now Nick and his friends are trying to escape the area, but all trails bend back around and lead them to the house . . . Nick's cursed house; the place where his imprisoned father finally waits to meet his son.
This movie was engaging for every second and downright terrifying at times. It avoided predictability and cliché, and kept you guessing about the end right up until the end. I haven't enjoyed a horror film this much since GRAVE ENCOUNTERS.