Directed By: Adam Wingard
Written By: Simon Barrett
Cinematography By: Roddy Baumgartner
Music By: Steve Moore
Cast: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Sheila Kelly, Leland Orser, Joel David Moore, Ethan Embry, Brendan Meyer, Lance Reddick, AJ Bowen
A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.
I really enjoyed this film as the film has a sense of dread that hangs over the film. It also is edited with cuts that make the film feel presented like a horror film. That is a bit misleading as it seems to be a mixture of genres. As the film uses horror film hallmarks in a non horror film.
The film ends up being more of an action thriller with elements of Science fiction to a degree. Only giving enough elements so that the film isn’t too far out in it’s premise.
When the film starts it digs in deep with characterization and we don’t exactly know where it is going as it gives hints and flirts though seems to stay it’s course at a middling speed. Though does offer to liven things up with a scene of action over here and there. The film is never boring as it tries to throw you off it’s course and keep you guessing. Since interwoven in the film is a feeling that anything can happen within a scene
What is so refreshing about this film is that while it feels familiar it keeps you on your toes. Like the previous film the filmmakers made. The film is just so inventive.
The lead played by Dan Stevens could have just gotten by with his looks. But he helps to create a Character whose looks help him manage his way to a degree to get to his target. His looks help explain why he is so Trusted by everyone especially with his wholesome manners, demeanor and charisma without saying much. He practically looks like he is waiting to play in a superhero film. Hero or villain, Though with his contortions of his face that seem to Make his tranquility a mask of hidden rage and terror.
Stevens has a handsomeness that makes you want to trust and believe him. You even find yourself rooting for him a bit until he does acts that go against the nature you once thought he had. Some might argue he is doing what he set out to just in a more extreme way as up to a point he is actually helping to protect the family.
This feels like a Bourne identity film mixed with a slasher film to a degree think Friday the 13th’s jason voorhies. Or Michael Myers. Though not necessarily on the grand levels of those films.
It is also has an amazing soundtrack that relies heavily On 80’s and 90’s tunes which also helps to place the film in a strange one period that isn’t exactly pinpointed. The soundtrack also helps to fill in the gaps and contain the mystery of the film and character.
Though it has it’s moments that make you groan. Like late in the film a character spilling all of the secrets gathered. It moves the film forward and reveals not only motivation, but also shows the emotional strength of the character.
It’s more then any homage as it feels like a film from that era except for some modern inventions invading the vibe.
The defense contractor that experimented on Daniel is called KPG. This is the same company that is mentioned in 2 of Adam Wingard’s other movies; You’re Next and V/H/S 2. In V/H/S/2, the eye experiment is by a military contractor called KPG and in YOU’RE NEXT the father has just retired from KPG.
By building up he moments and the characters when some perish it feels more grounded and painful. You actually feel the loss. Though as thin as some are treated it is still astonishing that you do feel that heaviness.
It is an action film set-up with horror conventions.
When David and Annie are at the Halloween party a guest can be seen wearing the Wolf mask worn by one of the home invaders in Adam Wingard’s previous feature; YOU’RE NEXT.
In the third act while the violence increases at least it feels more realistic then fantastic and film believable only. Though the mercenaries do seem more scattered then strategic. With this realistic violence the only son the film Truly seems to commit is that while fun. The third act feels a bit cartoon-ish then believable. As there seems to be a joyful goofiness in some scenes like the final diner scene. That seems over the top and a bit ridiculous. Though still works in the confines of the film.
The film is a fun genre exercise. It is also just a fun film destined unfortunately for just cult status as it deserves better then what seems to be it’s fate by the weekend box-office. It has more bravery and ideas then probably most to the top grossing movies of the weekend and probably more of an approval rating.
The films soundtrack even keeps the mood off course, As like the film it is heavily influenced by the 80’s but is obviously set in modern day times as there are cell phones, computers the internet. Though the film does hold a certain nostalgic factor. Making the film feel like it is from another time.