HORROR; 1hr 54 min
STARRING: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jonica T. Gibbs
First base: Stan and Edgar-Jones
After a blind date with a drop kick, Noa (Normal People’s Edgar-Jones) is done with the swiping game. But then she meets cute with a cute guy in a grocery store (Marvel stalwart Stan as Steve). Ka-ching! “I didn’t think people met people in real life any more,” she tells her BF Mollie (Gibbs), sadly nailing internet alienation. Steve is a doctor, funny, charming and social-media avoidant. Mollie, the voice of caution, flags this last as a giant red one. Noa doesn’t care, and in an ideal world that would be The End. Even shrewd, bisexual Mollie has to admit that Dr Steve is “a straight girl’s fantasy come true, right?”
Right. A fantasy is exactly what Steve is. Cue suggestive score and aerial shot of his plush, Wi-Fi-deprived and conveniently remote home. And with the opening credits kicking in at the 33-minute mark, along with the mickey that Steve slips into Noa’s drink, the hapless couple have a long way to go. When Noa wakes up chained and imprisoned, an agonising death-by-degrees looks certain. Suffice to say that Steve holds all the cards — except for sanity that is, although to be fair he is a highly functioning monster…
Director Mimi Cave, making her lean and ultra-mean movie debut, and screenwriter Lauryn Kahn slink with such winking panache through the nauseating hell they’ve created that even at its most repugnant and unhinged, looking away for long isn’t an option. Uncertainty is a large part of a lure whose high-shine style also never hurts. But it’s Edgar-Jones and Stan’s diabolical pas de deux that turns one-upmanship into an art form all the way from soup to nuts. Guilty pleasure doesn’t begin to go there.