Ti West’s horror debut revolves around four youngsters heading for a friend’s wedding at Halloween. Sticking to genre conventions, their car inevitably hits something and the bickering quartet suddenly find themselves stranded in a deserted rural backwater. What follows is an unsophisticated creature-feature that wrings every last drop of fear from a slim premise.West builds the tension in slow and deliberate fashion, providing a smattering of character development before unleashing hell on our protagonists by way of rabid bats and zombies. While his budget was clearly limited, creative camerawork and lighting combined with a nerve-shredding soundtrack manage to disguise the film’s financial shortcomings. The film’s principal mis-step is the ‘Saturday Night Frightmare Theatre’ device that bookends (and rudely interrupts) the action. Why this kitschy nonsense made it to the final cut is anyone’s guess, but it comes perilously close to ruining the hypnotic rhythm that West works so hard to create. The film nevertheless regains its composure for a grandstanding finale, and the result is an understated horror gem.