Netflix is at it again with another solid thriller to satisfy our urges for tension and emotion. This is a review of “I Came By” the newest Netflix thriller coming straight from the United Kingdom. I Came By has a solid cast filled with the name of veteran actors, good solid direction, and also a bit of cast going against type which is always fun. Making a thriller is not an easy task. The audience’s suspension of disbelief should always be in check. If you lose them for even one second, you will lose them forever.
In the case of “I Came By” the story dwells on some very dark themes. Sexuality, racism, and classism. It all mixes together into a very uncomfortable and very real depiction of how some people abuse and take advantage of those who cannot fight back. We are dealing with a serial killer story here, one that might feel quite real for some people, so don’t be surprised if some members of the audience find this movie a bit triggering. They are fully entitled.
I Came By is directed by Babak Anvari, and stars George MacCay, Percelle Ascott, Kelly Macdonald, and Hugh Bonneville. The film tells the story of Toby and Jay, two friends who get into rich people’s houses and tag them with graffiti, as a sort of rebel sign against the rich and powerful. However, when Toby gets inside the house of an ex-judge by himself, he discovers a dark secret in the basement, one that the ex-judge will make sure never comes to light.
Babak Anvari directed the fantastic “Under the Shadow” a couple of years ago, and a lot of what he learned from that film is put on display here. Even some themes of immigration and the refugee crisis make an appearance here, and they are all very interesting as they help to enrich the background and also provide for some true nightmare fuel situations. The atmosphere and the more intense emotional moments manage to come through the screen in a rather fluid manner.
Of course, in a film such as this, the strongest parts of the movie end up being the performances by each of the actors. People will be immediately drawn to MacKay after his amazing performance in 1917, and he is outstanding here as well, as a young man trying to fight for something but not being able to get the support he needs. It is a rather intense performance, and it stays with you throughout the entire runtime.
Kelly Macdoland is another standout. The Scottish actress has been going around since the days of Trainspotting, and since then her thick accent has been a staple of UK cinema and TV. Here, he plays a mother trying to do anything to save his son, and what a performance. Each moment of desperation, rage, and sadness is completely believable. Macdoland really deserves a lot more recognition as an actress. She always delivers.
However, the real standout here is Hugh Bonneville, who delivers a chilling performance as an ex-judge who secretly lives as a serial killer of the worst kind. Hugh Bonneville is Paddington’s dad, for god’s sake! He is supposed to be charming and nice, not horrifying, but that only serves to certify the quality of Hugh Bonneville’s acting and his amazing range as a performer. You will really despise him after seeing this movie, and maybe you’ll need to watch both Paddingtons to fix that.
Percelle Ascott, shines ins a more subdued way, but he is truly the breakthrough performance in the film. The actor really manages to show in his face and in the way he manages himself the real conflict inside his character’s mind. Each of the character’s decisions is completely logical, even if they don’t adhere completely to the stereotype of a hero we always like to see in movies, but that makes the character more real and relatable.
However, the movie isn’t without its faults. In today’s day and age, the depiction of homosexuality in movies is a touchy subject. And the movie simply goes for the old standard and makes the serial killer a closet homosexual who needs to externalized his frustration by killing young men. It is rather antiquated, and it also feels kind of off. This is not to say that homosexuals, just like any other person, don’t have the capacity for evil, but the depiction really feels like something it needed to be this way.
However, even in its mundane qualities, if there is something that makes the movie feel different from other serial killer movies, it’s the fact that I Came By doesn’t hold any punches. By the end, you truly feel the loss of life in the movie. This might turn some members of the audience off, those who want to see a happier ending, but for those looking for some true bitter-sweetness, then I Came By is the movie you have been waiting for.