NOTE: Another wonderful spoiler sent in by Marcus.
The film begins with a family driving down the highway, listening to classical music while they tow their boat in the back. George (Tim Roth) and his wife Ann (Naomi Watts) are playing a game where one puts in a CD and the other has to guess what song/artist it is. Their son Georgie (Devon Gearhart) sits in the back. Ann puts on a CD and asks George to name the tune. He loses, and all three family members laugh about it. The opening credits come up (accompanied by loud heavy metal music) as the family drives to their vacation house. They stop by their neighbor Fred’s (Boyd Gaines) house because they see Fred, his wife, and two young men in their front yard. They’ve arranged to play golf tomorrow, and Ann playfully tells Fred that it’s against the rules to practice. Fred seems to act strange, and his wife remains silent. Ann asks for Fred to help them put their boat in the lake in an hour or so. Fred agrees and the family continues to drive down the road. Ann remarks that it’s strange that his wife didn’t say a word, and Georgie wonders where their daughter is.
The family pulls up to the gate in front of the house, and Ann opens it with a remote. Once inside, Ann tells Georgie to put his belongings in his room and out of the way of the door, or else someone will trip over them. Their dog Lucky follows Georgie upstairs, and George settles his golf clubs in the hallway. He changes his shoes as Lucky swarms him with attention. George sends Lucky into the kitchen, where Ann is putting away food in the refrigerator. While she does so, Lucky eats the food from the refrigerator as Ann tries to get him to go away. Lucky goes outside and barks at the front gate, where Fred and a young man are. George lets them in, and Fred introduces his young companion as Paul (Michael Pitt). Paul seems very nice and George asks him when he got there. Paul and Fred contradict each other, but Fred pretends to be normal. George puts Lucky away so that he will stop bothering them. George, Georgie, Paul, and Fred all push the sailboat into the lake. Paul and Fred disappear shortly afterwards, and Georgie and George set up the sailboat. George tells his son to be careful with the equipment, and Georgie still wonders where Fred’s daughter is, since she’s usually always there with them. Back in the kitchen, Ann is talking to her friend over her cell phone. She tries to convince her friend to bring her husband and join them for the weekend, since they have more than enough food to go around. While she talks, Ann has filled up the sink with water and has put lettuce in the sink. Georgie walks into the kitchen and requests a sharp knife since dad needs it. Ann gives him the knife and Georgie leaves to give it to his father. Ann finishes her conversation with her friend, who still sounds undecided about coming over, and puts the cell phone by the sink. Georgie has come back into the kitchen, and tells her that there’s someone at the door.
At the door, Peter (Brady Corbert) introduces himself and tells Ann that he was with Fred when they pulled up earlier. She lets him inside the house as Georgie leaves. Peter says that Fred’s wife has requested for him to go over and ask for four eggs. Ann takes the eggs out of the refrigerator and asks him if he would like them in the carton or not. Peter doesn’t mind either way, and so Ann hands him four eggs. Peter thanks her and goes to leave the house when he drops the eggs in the doorway. Ann sees what happened and Peter apologizes. She says that it’s okay and goes into the kitchen to get some towels. Peter surveys the house and then he apologizes for being so clumsy. Ann tells him that it’s okay and cleans up the mess. Peter still would like the four eggs, but Ann is hesitant about it now since she might have company later, and might need the eggs for breakfast. Peter tells her that since she has a twelve-pack, she could spare four more. She takes out the carton of eggs, as Peter gets closer to her in the kitchen. She again asks him if she should let him take the carton or if he wants to carry the eggs over in his hands. He says that it doesn’t matter, though the carton is probably better since he’s clumsy. While Ann moves around, Peter knocks her cell phone into the sink. He apologizes for doing so, and Ann is clearly frustrated. She wants him to go before he destroys the rest of her kitchen, but he still requests the eggs. She gives him four eggs in a carton and he leaves, promising to tell Fred’s wife how kind she is. After Peter leaves, Ann laughs to herself and then lights up a cigarette.
Ann hears Lucky barking, and when she goes back to the doorway she sees both Peter and Paul are inside the house. Peter is afraid of dogs, and Lucky jumped up on him before he could leave. Ann asks if she should put Lucky away so that they can leave, but Paul tells her that it’s not necessary. He then compliments her on the nice set of golf clubs in the hallway, saying that they’re bound to lose since George is using such nice clubs. He pleads for Ann to allow him to try it out outside, and she agrees. Paul takes a golf club and a golf ball before leaving the house. Peter tells Ann that they both love golf. Lucky can be heard barking outside again. George and Georgie hear him, but George says that it’s probably just the heat that’s getting to Lucky. Eventually, Lucky whimpers and then stops barking altogether. George can see that his son is concerned, and so he tells him that he’ll go investigate. When he leaves, he knocks the knife into the boat. Ann walks around outside, looking for Lucky when Paul surprises her. He tells her that the golf club was fantastic and hands it back to her. They go back inside, where Peter is waiting for them. Ann is getting fed up with them, and asks for them to leave. Paul is surprised by how unfriendly she became, and asks Peter if he did anything wrong while he was out. Ann says that she’s done playing this game and again tells them to get out. Paul says that they’ll go, but he doesn’t understand why she’s so hostile and says that he’ll definitely have to tell Fred’s wife now, since he’s never encountered anything like this before. Paul says that they will go as soon as she gives Peter four eggs. Ann thinks this is ridiculous and tries to throw them out when George walks in, shortly followed by Georgie.
Ann is getting very upset and tells her husband to throw them out. Paul explains what happened (that Peter dropped the first four eggs, then Lucky caused him to drop the second pair of eggs, and now they just want four more eggs). Ann gives George the eggs and tells him to do whatever he wants, storming off. George says that his wife is feeling ill, but he still can’t act as mediator if he doesn’t know what happened. Paul and Peter agree to leave, but Peter still wants the eggs. Paul changes his tone and orders George to give it to them. George tells him to watch how he talks, and Paul tells him the same. George slaps Paul in the face and begins to walk away. Paul calls out to George, and as he turns back Peter smashes his knee with a golf club. George goes down and Georgie tries to fight back, but Paul pins him down and tells him that he doesn’t want to hurt him. Ann comes back and sees that George is hurt. She helps lift him to a seat, and Peter asks for George to allow him to inspect his broken knee, since he studies medicine. George refuses and asks them why they’re doing this. Paul says that he deserved it, since he slapped him. However, he tells George that since he’s the captain of his ship, they’ll do whatever the captain requests. He asks if they want to call anyone, like the police or an ambulance. Ann says that Peter knocked the only phone into the sink, and so it doesn’t work.
Paul decides that he wants to play another game a guessing game. He holds up a golf ball and asks George what it is. He drops the ball on the floor and it rolls to George’s feet. He says that it’s a golf ball, and Paul is happy that he got it right. He asks him why he still has it, and says that Ann should already know. Paul asks Peter, who correctly states that he didn’t get to hit it outside. Paul says that he’s correct, and tells them that he wanted to test out the golf club, but then he was interrupted and had to test it out in a different way. Ann asks where Lucky is. Paul brings Ann outside and has her walk around. Whenever she walks towards where he doesn’t want her to go, he says cold. Whenever she walks towards where he does want her to go, he says warm. As she walks around, Paul turns directly to the camera and smiles at the audience. She eventually gets to where he wants her to go, which is the family car. Ann opens the back and Lucky’s dead body slumps out and falls to the ground. Back in the house, Peter asks for Georgie to bring him something to eat but warns him not to grab any knives or weapons or else he’ll be sorry. Outside, some neighbors in a sailboat see Ann and call out for her. She waves to them, and they tell her to come down to help them dock. Paul appears behind her and knows that he and Ann are thinking the same thing. They both go down to the dock and Ann pretends to be normal. The neighbor, Betsy (Siobhan Fallon), greets Ann along with Betsy’s husband and her sister-in-law. Ann introduces Paul to them, and tells them that they just arrived and that George hurt his back while putting their sailboat into the water. Betsy says that’s bound to happen if he does it without getting help. She says that they’re grilling every night, and tells her to bring the family over when George fells better. Paul asks them where they live, and Betsy points it out to him. He compliments her on her lovely house, and the neighbors sail off again.
Ann and Georgie help George into the living room, where Paul moves around the furniture. George’s leg has been put in a brace, and they get him situated on the couch. Ann leaves to get some medicine and Georgie tries to leave as well, but Peter prevents him from doing so. George tells them to please go away, and Paul is happy that George said please. Ann comes back into the living room with a glass of water and some medicine for the pain. Paul suddenly shoves Ann on George’s broken knee and brings her to her feet. George tries to help her, but Peter stomps on his knee as he screams in pain. Paul then punches Ann in the stomach and shoves her back on the couch, along with Georgie. The family sits on the couch directly across from the villains. They ask why they’re doing this. Paul in turn asks Peter to explain it to them. Peter doesn’t want to, and he starts to get emotional. Paul explains that Peter’s parents divorced when he was young and his family is a white trash mess. His siblings are drug addicts, his father is an alcoholic, and Peter has sex with his mother. Peter starts to get really upset, but then Paul sees that the family is distressed about what he just said. He tells them that he lied about everything, and that Peter just hates the world. Peter starts to brighten up again, and he leaves the room to get some food from the kitchen. Paul takes the golf club and tells the family that he lied to them again. They’re both actually drug addicts and Peter just left to shoot up in the kitchen. They rob from wealthy families to support their ongoing addiction. George has had enough, since he knows that Paul’s just lying again. Paul is happy that George is catching on, and he calls out for Peter to join them.
Peter walks back into the living room with some meat and puts on a lamp because it’s starting to get dark. It’s about 8:40PM and Paul says that they’re going to make a bet now. Paul and Peter bet that in about 12 hours, the entire family will be kaput. Ann asks him what he means, and so Paul explains it clearer the family will bet that by 9AM tomorrow, they will still be alive while the villains bet that the family will be dead. Georgie gets frightened, and George tries to calm him down, telling him that they’re bluffing. Paul turns directly to the camera and asks the audience what we think. He bets that we’re on the family’s side, and asks us if he think they stand to have a chance. Peter points out to Paul that either way the family will lose and they can’t make good on their bet if they’re dead. Paul keeps on calling Peter “tubby”, and then they call each other “Tom and Jerry”, and “Beavis and Butthead”. Paul says that if Peter wasn’t so tubby, Ann might be attracted to him. He says that Ann doesn’t like him because he’s fat and she doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her body. Peter disagrees, and so this gives Paul an idea for the next game. Ann tries to leave, but Paul grabs Georgie and threatens him. He compliments Ann for fighting for her son, while chastising George for not doing the same. Paul has Peter hold Georgie and tells him that they’re going to play a game called “cat in a bag”. Paul promises that it’s really fun, removes a pillow cover, and quickly pulls it over Georgie’s head. Georgie screams, but Paul orders him to calm down since he has enough air to breathe and sits him down next to him on the couch. This will be a family game, and George will get to play as well so that he doesn’t get bored. He has put the cat (i.e. Georgie) in the bag to preserve some moral decency, so that he won’t see. He orders George to tell Ann “take off your clothes, honey”. George refuses to do it, and so Paul threatens to suffocate Georgie. George tells Ann to take off her clothes, and so she tearfully takes off her dress, then her underwear. Paul compliments her on her body and is happy, since he was right that she has no fat at all.
Degraded, Ann puts her underwear back on. Paul hands Georgie to Peter; since he’s disgusted that he wet his pants. Georgie manages to run away as Peter and Paul fight with Ann and George. Georgie can hear as his parents are beaten up and he tries to go out the front door, but it’s locked. Instead, Georgie runs upstairs and escapes from a window. Paul ties up Ann with tape and hopes that Peter won’t get bored being alone with the parents. Paul thus gives chase to Georgie by going upstairs, but not before telling Peter to be careful in not getting the carpet dirty. Outside, Georgie tries to climb over the gate because it’s locked, but he is unable to do it. Peter puts George on a chair as he screams in pain and Ann asks him why he doesn’t just kill them already. He tells her that she shouldn’t forget the importance of entertainment. Georgie makes his way through the lake and runs to Fred’s house. As he approaches the house, the lights suddenly come on and Georgie sees Paul jogging towards him. Peter says that this is silly, since it all happened because of the eggs. He wonders if the eggs in the carton are still outside, and he leaves the house. Ann hops over to George, who tries to untie her from the tape. Peter comes back and sees this, asking them if they think he’s really that stupid. He throws Ann onto the floor but in the process drops the eggs on the carpet. He gets upset, since Paul specifically told him not to mess up the carpet. He picks up the eggs and cleans up the mess while Ann begs for him to let them go. Peter tells her that she’s just degrading herself, and tells her to stop pleading.
Georgie goes inside Fred’s house and hides in the darkness. Paul follows him and Georgie sees that Paul is following the wet marks he’s made on the floor. Georgie takes off his shoes and pants, and then runs upstairs to hide behind a dresser. Paul asks out loud where he is as he continues to slowly check the house. Georgie looks outside and contemplates leaving through the window when he sees a shadow walk behind him. Curious, he walks to the hallway and sees a shotgun on the floor. In another room, he finds the corpse of Fred’s daughter lying on the floor, which also implies that Fred and his wife are also dead. Horrified, Georgie goes back to his hiding spot. He then goes back to the hallway, grabs the shotgun, and runs into another room. Paul gradually puts on all the lights and then plays some heavy metal music on the stereo. Georgie is frightened and then he is startled by Paul’s appearance. Paul sees that he has the shotgun and tells him to cock it. He slowly walks over to him and tells him to pull the trigger. Georgie pulls the trigger, but cries when nothing happens. Paul looks at him and then makes a gun sound.
Peter watches TV while Ann lies helplessly on the couch. Paul comes back with Georgie, and tells Ann that he tried to kill him. Paul has also brought back the shotgun, and lets Peter hold it. Paul gives him one shell to load into the shotgun. It’s starting to get late, and Paul thinks they should start thinking about their bet. Peter plays eney-meeny-miney-mo with the family. He lands on Georgie, but he can see that he doesn’t want to play. He instead chooses Ann. Peter and Paul guess what Ann’s age is. They say 35, and so Paul has Peter point to each family member and count to 35 as moves from person to person. Paul goes into the kitchen to get something to eat. He asks if anyone else wants something, and shortly afterward a shotgun blast is heard. Ann and George scream as Peter beats them in the other room. Paul makes himself a sandwich. There’s blood splattered all over the TV, and Paul gets after Peter for doing the counting game wrong and beating up the parents, since they don’t want to play anymore. Nonetheless, Paul tells the family that they’re leaving now. Paul puts the golf club back before leaving with Peter. Ann crouches on the floor and hears them drive off. Peter shot and killed Georgie, and his blood is splattered all over the wall. Ann slowly makes her way to the TV and finally turns it off. She then tries to free herself by cutting the tape with the corner of the TV stand, but fails. She hops over to George and tells him that she’s going to get a knife. Ann hops out of the room and George sits up, wailing in pain and agony over the death of his son. Ann comes back into the living room, freed, and she embraces George as they are devastated by Georgie’s murder. While Peter beat them, he broke George’s arm. Ann helps him up and they leave the living room.
They make their way to the hallway, where Ann sees that the boys locked the front door. They’ll have to climb out of a window. George tells her that he can’t leave, due to his bad shape. Ann is going to have to leave by herself and get help. She doesn’t want to leave him behind, but he tells her that she has to get help. He tells her to get dressed, and she puts on jeans and a sweater. She can make a hole through the fence by the lake and flag down a car. He tells her to get the pliers from the boathouse and then they see that her cell phone starts to work again. It must’ve dried enough to work, and they try to call the police but they don’t get through. George tells Ann to get the hairdryer so that they can use it on the cell phone. She gets the hairdryer and closes the living room door. She vomits and washes her mouth out in the kitchen. She tries to dry off the cell phone, but it still doesn’t work. George urges her to leave, since there’s a possibility that the boys will come back and they’re wasting their time with the cell phone. He has Ann put him on a chair and drags him over to the kitchen, where he will continue to work on the phone. Just as Ann is about to climb out of the kitchen window, George tearfully asks for her to forgive him. She tearfully goes to him and kisses him, telling him that she loves him. Ann leaves through the window and goes to the boathouse, where she gets the pliers. She cuts a hole through the fence and runs off.
George remains in the kitchen and continues to dry off the cell phone. He eats some bread, but winds up spitting it out. He finally gets the phone to work and calls 911, but then the connections fails. The battery is running low. He calls again and tries to get the police to come, but the phone dies. George lifts himself from the chair and screams in pain. Ann runs to a road but no one is around. She sees a car coming towards her from afar, but she hides behind a tree. The car passes by, and she runs after it, screaming for help. The car doesn’t stop because it doesn’t see/hear her. Ann then sees another car coming towards her. Instead of hiding again, she decides to flag it down. George puts a sheet over the bloody body of his dead son and then sits down. He hears a noise and thinks its Anna. He hears something fall to the floor and roll towards the door. It’s a golf ball. Paul shortly walks in, picks it up, and throws it at George but misses. Peter also brings in Ann, who’s bound and gagged. The parents are put back on the couch and Paul loads the second shell into the shotgun.
Paul tells Ann that George will die next, but they can play “the loving wife”. If she can recite a prayer perfectly, she will have the option to die first, or she can choose how George will die. “Whether by knife or by gun, losing your life can sometimes be fun,” says Paul. George tells him that they’ve had enough and begs him to finish them off. Paul asks him if he’s really had enough, and then asks Ann the same question. Paul looks directly into the camera and asks the audience if we’ve had enough. He says that we want a real ending, with plausible plot development. He takes off Ann’s gag, but she says that she doesn’t know any prayers. Paul is amazed that she doesn’t know any, and so he asks Peter to help her out. He tells her a short and easy one, though Paul doesn’t like it. Ann still won’t play, and so Paul stabs George off-screen. Ann finally agrees to recite the prayer. Paul makes her get on her knees and do it. She recites it right, and so Paul says that now they’re going for the gold medal. If she can recite a prayer backwards without any mistakes, she will get to choose who dies and how. While Paul talks, Ann grabs the shotgun from the table and shoots Peter in the chest, blasting him across the room. Blood is splattered across Paul’s face, and he becomes furious that Peter is dead. He takes the shotgun back and hits Ann with it. He then frantically searches the room for the remote control. He finds it on the couch and hits the rewind button, literally rewinding the film to a few moments earlier. Paul starts the film again from the point where he was talking to Ann about going for the gold medal. She tries to grab the shotgun while he talks, but since he knows what she’ll do he grabs it first and saves Peter’s life. He tells her that she shouldn’t have done that, since it’s against the rules to cheat. He walks over to George, who’s on the floor, and kills him by shooting him.
By morning Paul, Peter, and Anna walk out to the dock while they’re all wearing raincoats. Ann is still bound and gagged, and they shove her into the sailboat. They depart and begin to travel into the lake while Peter talks about cinema and reality. Ann grabs the knife George knocked in earlier and tries to untie herself while the boys talk. Paul immediately sees her doing this and laughs. They take the knife away and throw it into the water. Peter brings Ann to sit next to them, but Paul tells him to be careful since he knows that he can’t swim and it’s starting to get windy. Paul asks Peter what time it is. It’s a little after 8AM, and so Paul kisses Ann and shoves her off the boat, drowning her. Peter asks him why he did that, but Paul says that they almost had an hour before the deadline and he’s starting to get hungry. Both boys laugh, and then Peter continues to tell Paul about cinema and reality. Peter says that the family was in reality, but the hero was in fiction. Paul says that the film is as real as reality. Peter disagrees. The boys dock on the other side of the lake and Paul goes up to a house. He asks if anybody is home, and Betsy answers the door. Paul says that they met earlier at the dock. She recognizes him as Ann’s friend and welcomes him inside her home. Paul says that Ann had some company the previous night, and she was wondering if Betsy could spare some eggs. Betsy goes to the kitchen to get the eggs, and the film ends with Paul staring into the camera, implying that Betsy’s family will be their next victims.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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George (Tim Roth), Anna (Naomi Watts), and their son Georgie, are all killed by the two visitors (who go by different names throughout the film).
Georgie is the first to die via gunshot to the head. George is killed when Anna shoots one of the boys in the chest, only to have the other use the TV remote control to rewind time (a prevalent message throughout the film is that violence in reality is not like in the movies, and while they nod to the fact it is just a movie, everything about it is portrayed as reality) and when she goes for the gun he is aware this time, and to punish her he shoots George on the ground and kills him.
Anna is then taken to the boat where she attempts to cut herself loose with the knife shown earlier in the film, only to have it taken from her as a way to mock the standard Hollywood foreshadowing. She is then dumped overboard and drowns as the two boys discuss school fiction and state the message of the film quite clearly by stating (in reference to a novel they read) "the family was real, the hero was in fiction", demonstrating that violence is real and what occurs for entertainment happens in reality, however rising above the odds and becoming a hero only happens in fiction.
And as a note, all of the killing is off screen, this is a pro-reality but anti violence film in its own brutal right.
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