The opening stretch, which finds tension in moments of unease and mistrust, might be the most effective part of the film. After some awkward banter between the two guys as they set off on their journey, the men arrive at exactly the type of cozy, remote hamlet where you know bad shit is about to go down. The locals, sporting thick beards, thick accents, and even thicker sweaters, welcome the two buddies to their sleepy community with a combination of rugged hospitality and hardly concealed spite. We learn there's a raucous festival approaching, signaling that a communal Wicker Man-like scenario might be in the offering, and it's clear that word travels fast in the muddy, gray town. Vacations rarely go smoothly in movies -- or villages -- like this.
The hunting trip is Marcus's idea, a way to celebrate Vaughn's "last few days of freedom," but it's clearly less important to him than spending a night out drinking and flirting with two women who stop by the bar. (Palmer draws the distinctions between his two leads with small, clever details, like hinting at Marcus's cocaine use.) Hungover and inexperienced with a rifle, Vaughn finds himself in the middle of the fog-filled forest the next morning drawing a bead on a deer, but suddenly a child enters his crosshairs. Before he can reconsider, he pulls the trigger.