This simply-conceived, stomach-knottingly fun thriller may be first and foremost a delight for those who enjoy watching their Downton Abbey heroes let their hair down.
We loved the foppish blonde Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) when he finally married his Mary, and mourned when he perished in a car crash in the Christmas Special. Now imagine him, if you will, sporting a flawless American accent and playing a modern-day returned serviceman who inveigles his way into the hearts of a grieving family. When David arrives unexpectedly on their doorstep, the Peterson family is immediately welcoming to the earnestly polite young man who claims to have been a friend of their deceased son. But as a series of unexplained deaths ensues, alarm bells start to ring.
Up-and-coming director Adam Wingard has been ploughing his horror furrow for over a decade, with his festival hit You’re Next capturing Kiwi audiences’ attention in 2013. He took a chance in casting an icon of stiff upper Britness, but it totally pays off: Stevens is superb in the pivotal role, a perfect mix of charismatic and troubling. Suddenly his career path has taken a delightfully edgy turn, and the actor is clearly relishing it.