This shoestring B movie provides the discerning horror fan with a viable alternative to yet another glossy '70s remake. A group of friends on their way to a wedding get stuck in the middle of nowhere and take shelter on a farm populated, as it happens, by killer vampire bats. And then there's that bothersome zombie problem. As even the title suggests, the situation bears a passing resemblance to that of The Birds, but recent film school grad Ti West evokes all manner of horror-tainted cinema: Sporting a factory-faded look reminiscent of Sam Raimi's original Evil Dead, The Roost is replete with slasher movie palpitations and Lynchian soundtrack hums. The director makes the most of the tense slow stretches, with the camera occasionally drifting off in search of action while characters wait in dreadful silence. Less successful are the self-conscious bookend segments framing the main story as a late-night TV attraction. It's a gratuitous attempt to put the rest of the movie in quotes (something accomplished far more subtly and effectively by the film's shrieking score), but The Roost proves that West has enough talent to do without the gimmick next time around.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.