Director : Adam Wingard#
Writer: Simon Barrett
Starring: Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe.USA. 1h 40m
It’s not often that a modern action movie, moves me this much, but I think a lot of it’s down the the oddball attitude of the crazy director Adam Wingard who’s thrilled me with segments in V/H/S (2012) and You’re Next (2013) and the electro goth/dark wave/carpenter inspired soundtrack literally blew me away.
A grieving mother receives a house call from one of her late son’s comrades; David, fresh from the war, he’s promptly accepted by the family as he immediately becomes everyone’s best friend but suspicions arise when a few things just don’t add up but who would doubt this humble and handsome stranger.
Be Careful who you let in
Adam is known for his bizarre sense of humor and quirky films, all of this is present within what actually turns out to be quite a tight thriller that doesn’t take a lot to really warm up. David is a young and confident man, who has an excuse and answer for other everything. He slots in as a replacement son to the soft centred Laura (Sheila Kelley) and whiskey filled Spencer (Leland Orser) Peterson. He also plays the perfect big brother to their children, he teaches their son Luke (Brendan Meyer) to fight back against bullies and protects him from the faulty headmasters wrath, and parties and smoke dope with their Gwen Stefani look alike daughter Anna (Maika Monroe). Until everything starts to unravel.
“You did the right thing, I don’t blame you”
It’s always quite funny when a stranger calls, as an audience we already know they aren’t who they say they are and the fun is sitting back and watching the stranger hide an identity and the super sleuths try to solve the problem. The film is quite slick, with great 80’s reminiscent scenes, it feels like a twisted version of Drive (2011), except the handsome stranger has no limits and no morals.
After doubts are cast by Anna, the family all pretty much side with David, especially her younger brother who starts to idolise him, while seeing potential that he isn’t who he says he is similar to the shit head kid in Satans Little Helper (2004), the biggest mystery remains why and how is this man here, what’s his intentions!?
The heart throb worked hard at the body to keep this film interesting for the ladies, a mysterious not so tall, blonde stranger to whisk your nightmares away, but a man shrouded in mystery seems more inviting than the truth. You can almost see David’s cogs turning as he remains firmly one step ahead of the family and special forces (yep they get involved), and this character starts to unwind as he calculates the usefulness of anyone around him and he literally starts to re write the movie through quick processed reactions, within minutes he turns from cute guy into a fleshy terminator.
Luckily the film is set around Hallowe’en and this allows Wingard to pay homage to a few classic directors, including John Carpenter, not only in the booming soundtrack but also a school halloween disco ending, which is as visually stunning as it is horrific.
A standing ovation was required for the soundtrack, I never would have guessed that Wingard was a closet goth but combing Clan of Xymox and DAF along with many others in the soundtrack won my heart over, and there are very few letdowns with this film, a couple of scenes are a little predictable, the meeting in the headmaster’s office, the mother could have been a little less Mimi Rogers in Ginger Snaps (2000),and the ending could have been left more to the imagination but it’s still good throughout.
R – Shadow of a Doubt (1943),
L – Films with Amazing Soundtracks, Films with Extensive Soundtracks, When a Stranger Calls.