Expect no sinister shadows to creep upon a man, no bogeyman to pop from behind a creaking door, or a disembowelled dead to rise back to life from a morgue. And yet, expect the worst because this is a story of the real horrors of love, family and traditions. The touch of reality imbued in this horrific drama of an unlikely family is the real scare.
The Parkers are a religious family of five who keep to themselves in their grounds. During a bad storm that turns lives upside down, the mother passes away in an accident, leaving a grieving family, now shocked and stumbling upon the new disposal of 'motherly responsibilities' upon the two young daughters, Iris and Rose. The patriarch, Frank, controls every move the family makes and is obsessively protective of his ancestral customs which are hidden away from the ordinary world for good reasons. But the forces of nature almost seem disapproving of the family's ways as the tumultuous weather literally strips the lands clean to unearth evidences and hints of what they really do behind closed doors, and people of the town, especially the local physician Dr. Barrow, come upon these hints to converge on the family.
Meanwhile, the daughters are on the verge of a mental breakdown as they cannot keep up with their family traditions any more and would rather live a normal life away with their younger brother. But Frank is uncompromising and adamant, believing that it is God's will that he should maintain “the tradition in its purity,” and subjects his family to a kind of torment that almost seems justified at times by the love he has for them. Torn apart by loyalty to their father and basic human instincts, how Iris and Rose bring an end to this ordeal in the finale is ineffably disgusting and shocking, but at the same time, an effectively brilliant ending to a surrealistic work of art and storytelling.
Even more intriguing is the role of religion here. While religion has played the role of the rescuer from evil and horror in almost any movie featuring demonic presence, this is a horror movie that subtly portrays what fanaticism can lead to while catering to the demons born within.
The actors do a brilliant job: Bill Sage excels in giving life to the traditional ruling patriarch incapable of expressing love and benevolence without being stern and peremptory; Amber Childyrs and Julia Garner brilliantly embody the poignancy of their characters. The movie is made beautifully; it is neither too fast nor too slow, and is capable of keeping viewers captivated throughout. I couldn't find a single weak link, except that maybe they could have shed more light on the family's past. But that is a window of opportunity for the producers for a prequel, which has already been confirmed along with a sequel. I should mention that this movie was inspired by the 2010 Mexican movie of the same name and many might call it a remake, but that would do wrong to the original twists and spins in the story that this movie holds.
This is a horror movie that does not use cheap tricks and crescendos in background scores to scare you. The last 10 minutes of the movie will definitely disgust you. And even though it might not make any sense to you right away, you won't be able to stop thinking about it until you have no choice but to make sense of it all.