The Petersons are still mourning the loss of Caleb, the family’s eldest son, when a stranger arrives at their doorstep claiming to be a soldier and Caleb’s good friend. He ingratiates himself with the family and manages to get their confidence but under his good manners and southern charm lurks something dark and dangerous.
From the opening scene of the movie, I felt something familiar about the filmmaking approach. The editing felt like a throwback to the 80s, with the simple transitioning to the techno 80s scoring. I wasn’t surprised to find out that the team of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett was behind this thriller which stars Dan Stevens as the mysterious stranger with an uncanny set of skills.
First off, the story was not very original. Actually, a couple of films have explored the idea of having a weird uninvited houseguest and then learning later that he is not who he claims to be. Wingard and Barrett made no secret that there was something definitely wrong about David (Stevens) from the first moment he was left alone.
For those wondering how in the heck the prim and proper Downton Abbey’s Lord Matthew Crawley fared as a disturbed, ultra violent, poseur or if he made the right choice in leaving the popular UK show at the height its glory, have no fear, Dan Stevens was able to lend credibility to his role with a quiet intensity and charm, yes, charm, that won over the audiences, even though he was kind of nuts. I liked the dimensions in his character and the contrast in his two personas.
I liked the subtlety of David’s character. For somebody who does as much as he, he hardly broke into a sweat. I also liked his relationship with Luke (Brendan Meyer), especially when he stood up for the bullied kid. Even in the end , he was in big brother mode with the younger guy and I was really sold on that.
Actually, the characters’ actions, if scrutinized further merits a lot of questions, like , why would they let a complete stranger into their home? Why would the dad, originally opposed to the idea of having David under their roof, suddenly become friends with him just because of a couple of beers, or why Luke would be more concerned about David despite what his sister suspected about him? Or why antagonize a man you suspect to be dangerous?
Personally, I would have liked for the film to simply have been about David being a psychopath and I’m not quite sure if the backstory added value to the film as a whole, but if its an excuse to bring in Lance Reddick( Agent Broiles from TV’s Fringe), I’m all for it. However, it would have been better if they explored that side of the story some more instead of taking Luke’s theories as a fact.
By the way, kudos to the guys who did the set for the dance. It was awesome. Better than any horror house I’ve ever been to and it made the final confrontation so much cooler.
All in all, I felt that a lot of elements of the film was just included to make it more complex. But while I would’ve preferred for it to be simpler, I thought the filmmakers did a kickass job with the execution. It was cool, it was sleek and it had an edginess to it that made it work. It was a great watch, all things considered.