Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) are struggling with a marriage on the brink of collapse when their therapist suggests an unusual course of action. He sends them for a weekend away to a holiday home he has used for other clients, a place where they can find their better selves and rediscover each other. Although the venue is pleasant enough, it seems quite unremarkable until the couple pay separate visits to the guest house in the grounds.
Duplass and Moss pretty much carry the whole film, as apart from a cameo from Ted Danson as the therapist, the majority of the film involves just one or both of them on screen. Much of the dialogue was ad-libbed on set, which lends an air of authenticity to the relationship between Ethan and Sophie, especially as they start to understand the mystery of the summer house. Debut feature director Charlie McDowell (son of Mary Steenburgen, who does a vocal cameo and owns the house where the movie is set) keeps the movie upbeat and sunny, helping to prolong the mystery by keeping the tone light even as the incongruities start to build up.
The revelation and eventual resolution of the mystery may not satisfy everyone and still leaves a few aspects unexplained, tantalisingly leaving the larger mystery unsolved in order to follow Ethan and Sophie’s story to its conclusion. There are shades of “The Outer Limits” and “The Twilight Zone” but it’s mostly its own genre-straddling thing, a weird little romantic comedy drama with a sci-fi mystery veneer.