There are those times when if a person feels uneasy about something, it might be wise to listen to their first instinct and just go the other way. When Will and Kira attend a party at the home where Will once lived with his ex-wife, Eden, they reunite with Will and Eden’s friends, as they’ve been apart for two years. The revelation that Will and Eden lost a son is injected into the story at various points as Will wanders around his old home, remembering various points in his life, such as when his son was alive and Eden’s suicide attempt.
Throughout the night, Eden and her new husband David act a bit strangely as Will takes note, and their revelation that they joined a grief counseling group, or a cult, in Mexico where they met is shared with their friends not long after. Will is still uneasy throughout the night and continues to think that something is amiss as Eden and David act a bit sketchy as they continue to tell of their experience.
When their friend Pruitt joins the party, as well as Sadie, another person they met in Mexico, things only get stranger. Eventually, the others take note of Will’s behavior, and the night becomes a little more tense, right up until Will’s suspicions are confirmed.
It was kind of easy to see the red flags waving at certain points in the movie.
A gathering of friends that haven’t seen each other in a couple of years feels innocent enough, but the tension that existed between Will and Eden was enough to make one feel that things were not as they should have been. As the story moved forward, it was kind of easy to see why, but Eden’s behavior was enough to raise an alarm, given that she didn’t appear ready to speak a single word about her and Will’s son, even in private.
Plus, her lack of personal boundaries didn’t speak well for a woman that should have been grieving in one way or another. It’s true that everyone handles grief in a different way, but the fact is that Eden acted as though nothing had happened up until Will called her out on it, as her plastic smile stayed in place for a good part of the night, at least until Will decided enough was enough.
The diabolical nature of a murder party would probably make a lot of people feel uncomfortable.
Granted, no one knew they were at a murder party, as the general consensus was that they were just a bunch of friends that were seeing each other after a long period of time. But from the point of view of the audience, it wasn’t hard to see that something wasn’t right since the lighting was dim to dark. The mood still felt somber no matter how much laughter and wooden humor were involved.
This movie felt like it was bound and determined to be depressed since it didn’t find even a single upbeat note to use throughout its length. From the moment Will sees Sadie half-naked in a doorway to the moment that Pruitt arrives, there’s an awkward feel to the movie that continues to build in a manner that only gets worse with each passing minute. The calm and friendly feel that David and Eden try to create simply doesn’t wash as the feeling that everyone has been fooled, save Will, continues to build until certain moments when it feels as though it should probably break.
The red lantern was a pretty good sign that all wasn’t well.
Considering that the lantern was lit before the cake and after dinner, drinks were served, it did feel as though something was about to pop off that would be anything but good. If this movie had been a gaslighting session that had targeted Will, it might have felt like a lousy payoff.
When it’s revealed that the drinks are poisoned, thanks to the death of one of Will and Eden’s friends, Sadie attacks Will, and then she and Pruitt, as well as David, begin to kill off the party members as Will, Kira, and another friend run. Eventually, only the three of them are left as they dispatch the cult members, but as they walk outside to see more red lanterns lit at various homes across the valley, it becomes obvious that the cult David and Eden had joined was far more widespread than they’d realized.
The chaos that cults can inspire is a trope that Hollywood directors tend to enjoy quite a bit apparently.
Cults are terrifying in a few ways since it means the loss of one’s identity and total obedience to a cause that many people can’t understand and don’t agree with. The fact that so many people around the world are susceptible to cult behavior is horrifying, and this movie does manage to make that work in a way that’s kind of muted but still enough to rattle some folks.
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