The narrative structure of this film is a mess to say the least. The film misses numerous opportunities to delve deeper into characters backstories and relationships, as well as crucial world-building moments, which results in the final product lacking in cohesion. It doesn’t help that the film is overflowing with horror cliches and kills you can see coming from a mile away, all complimented by a screenplay packed with enough unnaturalistic and idiotic-sounding dialogue to make Tommy Wiseau squeal with joy.
The tone, as well, feels largely inconsistent. The film has many moments where it seems to be going in a self aware direction, even referencing the infamous horror comedy “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” at one point. When the movie capitalizes on this tone, particularly in one scene involving wrapping paper, the comedy is actually very effective. However, the movie only does this in bits an pieces, with a tone that largely tries taking itself very seriously, which often fails given the cliche dramatic and horror elements.
This is all aided by a cast that, for the most part, never elevates beyond mediocrity. While Gabriel Bateman as Andy tries his best to appear compelling, the actor never sells the character beyond feeling generic, coming off as a slightly better Disney channel star at best. The rest of the child stars are laughably terrible, trying way to hard to give off “Stranger Things” vibes without any of the charm, relatability or actual character that the series does so magnificently. Aubrey Plaza is phoning her way through the entire movie and comes off as a truly unlikable character who’s arc feels disposable. Brian Tyree Henry is the only one who turns in the closest to a decent performance, but his acting chops feel bogged down by the material.