Joe Swanberg is still not quite a household name. But with a staggering 27 directing credits to his name, according to IMDB, the mumblecore stalwart can’t be faulted for lack of trying. And things may be shifting. His feature in the first V/H/S was the stand-out, his 2011 starring role in Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s terrific suspense flick You’re Next got more attention than usual (editor’s note: see their 2014 Swanberg-less The Guest, one of the best films of the year), and his 2013 Drinking Buddies attractively married the patented low-key approach of his hangout scene to something approximating a Hollywood rom-com.
Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett traffic in playful homage and neat subversion of other horror movies. Their 2011 low-budget collaboration You’re Next combined elements of home invasion and slasher flicks with an in-joke sensibility – a mumblecore Scream. With 2014’s The Guest, they went full-on John Carpenter, layering on the mounting dread and the insistent synth score, while drawing liberally (or borrowing wholesale) from the plot of The Stepfather and similar “who are you really?”