Is “I Came By” Based on a True Story or a Book?

I Came By

The new Netflix thriller I Came By directed by Babak Anvari is a solid addition to Netflix’s repertoire. Since the movie follows overall dark themes that are very common not only in fiction but in the real world as well fans have been wondering whether the events of the movie were inspired by some true story, or rather a book. Classicism, racism, and serial killers are nothing new, and surely there must be something specific that inspired this chilling thriller? Let’s see whether I Came By was based on a real-life event or a book. 

Netflix thriller I Came By was not based on a book, it’s based on an original screenplay written by Babak Anvari and Namsi Kham. Although there isn’t one specific event that inspired the screenplay the ongoing themes of the thriller are recurring in today’s society and Babak actually had an idea two decades before he made the movie. He stated that he only took real-world experiences and events and decided to fictionalize them and put them on screen. 

Now that we know that I Came By is not based on a book and as far as we know it’s not based on a specific event let’s see what served as an inspiration for the movie. If you’re interested in more details, stay with us!

What is Netflix’s I Came By about? 

The movie I Came By is about institutional failure, racism, classicism, sexuality, and dark themes in general. It shows the ugly underbelly of our society that just looks like it’s functioning fairly.. But to be more specific, the movie follows a young graffiti artist Toby Nealey (George MacKay ) who decided to take a fight against the rich into his own hands by tagging their properties and sending their message through the act. He has built up quite a reputation but has a certain degree of anonymity even though he is wanted by the police.


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The story takes a turn for the worse when Toby and his friend Jay (Percelle Ascott) decide to break into a house of a former judge. Everything is going according to plan up until a point when they reach the basement where the former judge is holding something shocking. He turns out to be a serial killer targeting young men. This single event kickstarts a whole lot of trouble and danger for Toby and the underlying theme of institutional failure becomes all the more obvious as the movie progresses since the police and quite frankly none else want anything to do with the mess they’ve uncovered.

One of the key points of the movie is the fact that even though the police have reasonable doubt to suspect that something fishy is going on, they still need to follow a chain of command and a specific hierarchy before they can do something specific. Due to that, Toby finds himself in danger with limited options on where to ask for help and who to trust. 

While the premise of the movie is intriguing it’s not at all a stretch to assume that it’s based on some specific event, or a book, as far as we know things like that happen on regular basis and we just never get to hear about right? 

Is I Came By based on a true story? 

I Came By was not based on a true story, it was based on non-specific events and experiences that Babak Anvari had way back in his 20s. He stated for Digital Spy that he came up with an idea for I Came By 2 decades before it was turned into a movie. The recurring themes of fairness, institutional failure, racism, and classicism were just as relevant then as they are today he just decided to fictionalize them and turn them into a movie that for some, hits maybe way too close to home. 

He stated in that same interview that the conversations he can lead today about how things work in today’s society, in general, are the same ones he had with his friends. Nothing really changed all that much. 


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So while we can’t say that anything specific inspired Babak Anvari to write the screenplay we can surely see that an average person witnesses similar events tied to corruption, cronyism, and institutional negligence. Even though the movie itself is thrilling, full of surprise, and emotionally charged Anvari hopes first and foremost that it will give people something to think about, that it will be a conversation starter for people who are disillusioned with the role that institutions play in our lives and what happens when they fail and we have absolutely nothing to fall back onto. 

Based on a true story or not, It doesn’t change the fact that I Came By is a solid thriller whether or not you can recognize some real-life experience (or event) in it. 

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