Viewed – 13 January 2015 Blu-ray
From the trailer alone this looked like an interesting action thriller with a twist. Even if during the opening credits it’s difficult to judge the tone, with the title appearing ominously as the lead character jogs down a dusty highway, a rural house in the distance. Yet on further inspection it bares more than a passing resemblance to Park Chan-Wook’s excellent Stoker with newcomer Dan Stevens playing David, a mysterious soldier who turns up on the doorstep of the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their recently deceased son. Naturally the grieving family welcome the charming and pleasant David into their home, but as days go by a spate of unexplained deaths seem linked to his sudden appearance.
Stevens nails the sinister / charming act really well, befriending the young geeky son who is getting bullied, whilst casting a watchful eye over the rebellious teenage daughter whose friends seem less than ideal. I had a lot of fun watching this nice but clearly highly trained soldier front up and protect the family, especially in one bar room scene that had me almost cheering. Yet as the move hits it’s stride it takes a dramatic turn, and not necessarily for the better. Supporting cast including a weirdly flirtatious Sheila Kelly (why was I expecting her and David to get it on?) as the mother and Maika Monroe (?) as the suitably spunky sister, all do their jobs well. It was also easy to care for these characters as events began to turn deadly. Yet it lacked some of the intelligent character observation of the aforementioned Stoker and what began as a complex portrayal by Stevens as David quickly replaces character for brainless action and bloodshed, as if the writers just ran out of ideas.
For a great initial concept however, a star-making turn by Stevens and some unexpected shocks – I’d still give this my recommendation. I just wish it had maintained it’s brains throughout.
Verdict: 3.5 /5