THRILLER; M, 1hr 48min
STARRING: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton
Present tense: from left, Hall, Bateman and Edgerton
Writer-director Joel Edgerton’s intriguing offering to the psychological horror gods opens slow and steady, with seemingly golden couple Robyn and Simon (Bateman and Hall) relocating from Chicago to an airy, glass-fronted home in Los Angeles. While shopping for homewares, the two run into Gordo (Edgerton), a former schoolmate of Simon’s whose hesitant posture is an immediate warning — although of what isn’t clear. Gordo is a strange one, there’s no denying that: socially out of sync and jarringly persistent, he repeatedly drops by uninvited with welcoming gifts until his welcome is worn out.
Unstable men with axes to grind are never inclined to let them down lightly. As a hovering weirdo, Edgerton does a nice line in subdued menace. As a film-maker, he’s patient and detailed in his playing with perception. What translates as menace, for instance, could just as easily be mental and emotional damage done, just as an apparently solicitous husband could actually be a manipulative tormentor and his suspicious wife a casualty of her instability. Or not. This stealthy guessing game is cunningly unguessable from its stilted first encounter to the lingering question of its ambiguous resolution.