Star Rating:

I Came By 15

Streaming On: Watch I Came By on Netflix

Director: Babak Anvari

Actors: George MacKay, Hugh Bonneville, Percelle Ascott, Kelly MacDonald

Release Date: Wednesday 31st August 2022

Genre(s): Thriller

Running time: 110 minutes

Hector Blake (Hugh Bonneville) is a retired judge who hides a dark secret underneath his palatial London house, but when two graffiti artists (George MacKay, Percelle Ascott) discover it during an incursion, they find themselves in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with him that threatens to spill out of control...

There once was a golden age of trashy thrillers called the '90s. In that time, you had movies like 'Copycat', 'The Negotiator', David Fincher's 'The Game', and so on. They were made with an awareness of their own limitations, of scoring with audiences by coming up with nifty ways of subverting audience expectations. It's a delicate art, and considering how movie studios are now solely interested in easily recognisable characters and spectacle than tension and atmosphere, it's no wonder thrillers have enjoyed a revival of fortunes on streaming services.

'I Came By' very much feels like a streaming movie, in that it positions itself with recognisable talent, an established concept, a smattering of local colour (for the UK, anyway), and it's not too long. It might be by the numbers, but when it's done, it adds up to a satisfying experience.

George MacKay and Percelle Ascott have a good dynamic together, MacKay in particular is so well-known for giving full-on, intense performances while Scott feels more restrained and contrasts himself against it. Kelly MacDonald, sadly, is somewhat underutilised in the role of MacKay's mother, as is Franc Ashman. The real standout is, naturally, Hugh Bonneville. It's a cliche that actors who spend a lifetime playing mild-mannered, well-liked characters often flourish when given a chance to play a villain, but it's one that's valid here. Bonneville does play the part well, easily charming everyone and anyone with his good manners and high-born charm, but underneath it, he is a sickening maniac and a gleeful one too.

Writer-director Babak Anvari is no stranger to thrillers, having directed the excellent 'Under The Shadow' in 2016 and the season finale of 'Monsterland' more recently. He has clear ideas about what makes tension and atmosphere work, and is able to marry that with sharp observations on class in English society. The problem with 'I Came By' is that it never quite goes the whole way with its ideas, and pulls back just as it's about get going. As well as this, the story suffers from pacing issues, particularly in the middle section, that might have arisen out of some edits that occurred.

All in all, 'I Came By' can sit comfortably alongside the thrillers it drew inspiration from, and while it's not reinventing the genre, it's honouring its best qualities.