This could have been a belter of a thriller. As it is it's still superior to most I've seen of this genre. If only.......well, we'll come to that.
Firstly, dispel any notions of H.G.Wells' classic tale with which this shares its title.
Elizabeth Moss (not a 'beauty' in the conventional western sense, but what an expressive face!) plays a woman locked - no, imprisoned - into an abusive relationship in a large, isolated. mansion-sized modern house (filmed in Sydney, N.S.W.) by a man, an 'optics scientist' (?), who wants her to have his baby - and from whom she's ever so desperate to escape. She achieves this in pre-planned fashion and, convinced that he'll do everything he can to search her out, she takes up residence with a sympathetic single man (Aldis Hodge) and his teenage daughter. Shortly afterwards she's shown a newspaper report that not only has this former abusive partner died by suicide, but he's left to her an enormous fortune to be paid out in instalments over many years, but with stringent conditions attached, one of the most important being that she engages in no criminal activity. She suspects it's a hoax, despite being assured that his body's been cremated. Then when she's alone she gets a feeling of a presence in the same room, objects being moved when her back is turned - plus, inevitably, blankets being pulled off the bed while she's sleeping. Convinced that somehow the 'deceased' is the culprit it's the familiar tale of no one believing her, ascribing these events to her over-vivid imagination - until the happenings culminate in an horrific murder in public which, to the witnesses present, she herself committed - and thus putting her forthcoming monies in suspension, and her likely to be losing it all. Arrest, hospital incarceration, interviews - it's all presented in formulaic though non-plodding fashion.
The suspense of the first three-quarters of this two-hours film is real nail-biting stuff, most effectively done. Although the final half hour turned into expected and guessable cat-and-mouse game it still had its moments - there having been a heavy hint in the film's first half when she makes a certain discovery of how the denouement will finally play out - but even so, it's a satisfying finish - astonishing twists and all.
Elizabeth Moss is simply stunningly credible in the part, rarely off the screen she steals most of the scenes with ease.
Directing, story and screenplay are all by Australian Leigh Whannell who's probably best know for the grisly 'Saw' franchise (I've only seen the original 'Saw' - that was quite enough, thank you!) but I think in this film he does himself proud.
Now for that downside. This is one of those films where a large part of the dialogue is delivered in indecipherable mumbles - and, not only that, also in whispers where, indeed the parties conversing have no particular need to speak in such subdued pitch. Why, oh why do they do this? I think I must have missed at least half of the film's entire script, and sorely wish I'd gone to a subtitled screening, which would have been quite possible. If the film had been trashy it wouldn't have mattered so much but it's a special loss when it otherwise looks to be a good one. I concede that at my age there is bound to be at least some loss in my hearing capacity, though it's still a mystery why I don't experience that lack in other aspects of my life. I always want, at certain points, to ask random members of the audience if they could tell me what had just been said - and the reaction I'd expect in nearly every case would be a shrug of the shoulders and a shake of the head - though it doesn't seem to bother them too much. Maybe it's just me who's too fussy? Or could it conceivably be that the sound reproduction for all my home town's (pop. 110,000) five screens is particularly poor?
This is a damn good film, enough jumps and starts to keep you watching, never monotonous for a moment. Pity, then, that were it not for the aforementioned defect I would have rated it a bit more exalted than a...........7.
(IMDb,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,7.6 - Rott.Toms.............4.3/5 )
3 hours ago