This debut from Joel Edgerton (of all people) is a terrific thriller that—despite slowly building to an orchestrated revenge it saves until its very end—doesn’t wear out its welcome by stretching the boundaries of its credibility too soon. Edgerton’s editing makes light work of setting the scene in the opening passages. We begin with a couple viewing a house (Hall and Bateman as Robyn and Simon). They move in. And while they’re buying furniture they’re being watched through the shop window. The stranger (Edgerton) enters the store and introduces himself as a high school classmate of Simon’s. Being on heavy rotation on TV recently, I’d caught glimpses of it. And on the two separate occasions I’ve seen as it begins, I’d earmark it for a later viewing, on my terms, without commercial breaks. For the most part, I wasn’t disappointed.
An adult drama fitting a recent mold of slow-burning art-house titles that eschew the reliance on contrived improbablity, it shares quite a bit of common ground with noteworthy contemporary entries. Be that in their mood, style, tone, or more importantly, elevating dialog above overt confrontation and cheap twists, these films feature everyday encounters packaged as disturbances. The horror next door, so to speak. James Ward Byrkit’s Coherence (2013); Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation (2015); Antonio Campos’ Christine (2016); and Trey Edward Schultz’s Waves (2019) come to mind. A lot of conflict and suspense is conveyed in these movies via dialogue, mood and emotions. The similarities also draw from a long line of stalker predecessors like Single White Female (1992), Unlawful Entry (1992), Six Degrees of Separation (1993), and, dare I say, Michael Haneke’s Caché (2005). The majority of these films feature some type of past trauma dogging the protagonist or antagonist. The tension lies in how resolution, atonement or closure can be attained.