A man arrives at the Peterson’s home, introducing himself as a soldier that served beside their son who died in action, but the man might be hiding some secrets.
I first watched this movie at the beginning of the year when I found out about it through Red Letter Media. I found that I really enjoyed the film, but for some reason I didn’t write a review for it. Well, cut to nine months later and my brother asked if I wanted to watch this, and I heartily agreed. Upon my rewatch, I found the film to be just as enjoyable as before (if not a bit funnier). This film feels like a blend of 80s horror and 80s action, resulting in an exciting, fast paced thriller with plenty of biting dialogue, an intense performance from Dan Stevens, and a killer soundtrack.
“My name is David. I knew your son, Caleb.”
David (Dan Stevens, “Apostle”) arrives on the front porch of the Peterson’s home on a sunny morning wearing a smile on his face and carrying a duffle bag over his shoulder. He introduces himself to their mother, Laura (Sheila Kelley, Matchstick Men), and tells her that he knew their son who was recently killed in Iraq. Laura offers David a place to stay for the night, and soon David is introduced to the other members of the family; the dad, Spencer (Leland Orser, "Saving Private Ryan”), their daughter Anna (Maika Monroe, “It Follows”), and their son, Luke (Brendan Meyer, “Andy”). Over the next few days, David ingratiates himself into the lives of the family, being incredibly polite, helping out whenever he can, and befriending Caleb’s siblings. At the same time, a few unexplained deaths have happened in the area, and Anna and Luke begin to have suspicions about their new houseguest.
First things first; this movie is somewhat predictable, but while I knew where the film was headed, it was still fun to experience the journey and get to the ending I knew was inevitable. Even from my brief description above, I’m sure you can guess that David is not who he seems. It didn’t bother me that, even when we first meet David, I knew he was probably going to wind up being involved somehow. Normally a movie that gives away a major plot point too early it bugs me, but for this one, the film doesn’t really pretend to be something its not. The movie starts by setting up a simple premise, then lights a fuse and watches it explode. I guess one of the reasons I didn’t care that the story was so predictable, was the rather sardonic dialogue. A lot of the scenes in this movie feel over the top to the point of feeling tongue in cheek. One of my favorite scenes of dialogue is when Luke is asking David for advice on how to handle bullying, and David, quite calmly responds that he should “go around their houses and night and burn them down with their families inside.” Luke, happily thinking that David is exactly who he says responds, “Yeah, okay.” The tone of the film is a great balance between humorous and thrilling. There are a few scenes where characters make some rather stupid decisions that don’t really make sense for their characters, they only do what they’re doing to further the plot.
There are some pretty strong performances in this movie, most notably from Dan Stevens and Maika Monroe. Dan’s strength lies in his ability to play, convincingly, a simultaneously charming young man and a ruthless villain. There are a number of great scenes where he shows a great amount of emotional change with just his body language and face, and other scenes where he says one thing with a smile on his face, but still convinces us something is incredibly wrong. Maika is great in this too. I find she is able to play teenagers very realistically, without overacting or seeming ridiculous especially when she’s in trouble. The soundtrack for this film is pretty awesome too- lots of synth-filled 80s music and atmospheric tones.
This is a low-budget little thriller with some awesome action moments, some witty dialogue, and an overall great tone and atmosphere. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a horror film, it certainly has some thrilling moments. I’d recommend this to people who like action flicks, thrillers, or 80s vibes. It might be predictable, but that doesn’t take away the amount of fun it provides.
This is part of our 31 Nights of Thrills Series. Not all of the movies we review for this series will be strictly horror, but all will have something to do with the spirit of things spooky or scary. If you like those types of movies, be sure to check back throughout the month of October!
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