A soldier turns up at the Peterson household, claiming to a friend of their son’s who recently died in action. They all warm to him quickly, but after some strange events it appears he’s not exactly as he seems.
Though you pretty much know where the film is going from the beginning, it really doesn’t matter because the journey is just damn enjoyable. The film also doesn’t pretend that you don’t know where it’s going and uses this knowledge to build up some amazing tension and tease you along the way. And when I say tension I mean tension and sexual tension, but it’s so thick you could cut it with a knife.
Strongly holding it all together is Dan Stevens, whose performance is ridiculously great and I keep babbling on about how amazing he is in this film, but he’s just really goddamn good. It’s a very difficult character to get right – needing just the right intensity, charm, mystery, likability and sinister.. ness? Without him the film probably wouldn’t have worked as well as it did. I must admit to not finding Stevens attractive at the beginning, but as the film went on I became more and more attracted to him, which I think is due to just how well he played up the charmingness of the character. Most of the cast is pretty good – I really liked Brendan Meyer for some reason, though he didn’t have a whole lot to do. Unfortunately, the weakest link is Maika Monroe who is the main focus of the film besides Stevens. She doesn’t have enough screen presence or have quite the right amount of depth for her character to seem believable or likable and she’s just annoying. Not entirely her fault though as I felt the character itself was a bit of a weak spot.
Another very noteworthy aspect is the amazing soundtrack. I’ve fallen madly in love with one song in particular, but it’s the perfect soundtrack for the film.
The first half of the film is relatively slow and subtle and the second half.. isn’t. I did prefer the first half, but because it did such a good job of building up to it, it still all worked as a whole. There is quite a jarring change in everything as it becomes more of an action/thriller, than a slow-burn thriller. It has a sense of humour about itself and so when it delves into a few cliches, you find yourself forgiving it.
It has flaws, but overall it’s such a great ride that they don’t really matter. As mentioned, Dan Stevens, the soundtrack and the tension/atmosphere are the strongest parts of the film and worth watching for. I saw people comparing it to Drive – which didn’t even cross my mind – but I can see where people are coming from; this is the film Drive wanted to be and failed at miserably.