I Came By may not be a first-rate thriller, but Hugh Bonneville’s wicked turn sure is.
This review of the Netflix film I Came By does not contain spoilers.
Talk about changing up a dramatic and family-friendly filmography. I Came By, a new horror thriller by director Babak Anvari, allows Hugh Bonneville to be seen in a new light. The Downtown Abbey and Paddington actor goes full H.H. Holmes in the Netflix thriller. He plays Hector Blake, a retired judge who is enjoying the good life after putting his wife in a psychiatric hospital. He lures young men into this home. The judge then puts them in the panic room, torturing them with a homemade paddle, and I can only assume he says off camera, “Case dismissed,” every time he takes a swing.
I never thought we would have a script that attempts to combine Banksy’s themes of capitalism, hypocrisy, and greed, but here we are. Written by Anvari and co-writer Namsi Khan (Humans), it follows Toby (1917‘s George McKay) and Jay (Percelle Ascott), who make political statements by spraying graffiti on the walls of the wealthy elite with the phrase, I Came By. However, after Jay gets his girlfriend pregnant, Toby carries on without him. He breaks into Hector’s home and finds more than he bargained for, a hidden panic room with a large metal door and a reverse peephole. When he looks inside, he is horrified.
What happens next is an investigation game of tag, and you are it. Anvari and Khan’s script is not your typical game of cat and mouse. It is not exactly a wholly original structure, but the plot does not follow Bonneville’s Hector around as he picks off his victims. The judge is playing more defense than offense, if you catch my drift, as they come closer to his secret.
Is he guilty? Before you complain about letting poor psychopathic Henry Brown, just watch Rick and Morty and stop for the day, there is a woman who is asking that same question. That’s Kelly MacDonald’s Lizzy, who plays Toby’s mother and helps move the film along and build natural tension. It is a cliched role but a reliable performance that keeps the viewer interested.
I Came By is a giant metaphor for how greed can treat,”…your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” While not getting into spoilers, the story may be a bit formulaic. Some of the plot points, like the judge being momentarily arrested, do not work or at least not as well as they should. However, I enjoyed the “transitions” of how the story evolves. Anvari and Khan are never afraid to stick to a standard comfortable ending for their characters or story. On top of a thoroughly enjoyable and wicked performance from Bonneville, I Came By may not be a first-rate thriller, but a second-rate one sometimes can be just as good.
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