Netflix would-be thriller I Came By has a strikingly hammy performance by Hugh Bonneville and a lot of silliness
“If you wouldn’t mind taking off your shoes”
Sometimes you want a serious film. But sometimes you want utter nonsense that accompanies a snuggle on the sofa and a bag of Butterkist. Netflix’s I Came By definitely falls into the latter category with its outlandish stalker thrills and Hugh Bonneville serving up huge amounts of ham. It’s highly silly but divertingly good fun in the end, as it tries hard to do things a little differently and maintain an air of suspense to mark it out.
Writer-director Babak Anvari and co-writer Namsi Khan almost manage it too. We open with graffiti artists Toby (George MacKay) and Jay (Percelle Ascott) who practice their art with a socially conscious bent, daubing their houses of the rich with the titular phrase. But when they alight upon the deluxe home of former judge Hector Blake (Bonneville). they find more secrets than can be solved with a nifty way with a can of spray paint.
And so Blake is set up as a hugely malevolent presence who does battle against Toby and Jay, their families, the police and more besides in pursuit of…well, that would be telling. Bonneville hits the right level of ripeness in his portrayal (his outburst to Franc Ashman’s diligent DS is genius) but it does come at the cost of unbalancing the whole film. None of the other characters are allowed to build up anywhere near the same depth.
Which isn’t necessarily the worst thing, it just means that there’s little sense of tragedy that builds up around the horror and thrills. Nor is there enough suspense to take it seriously. Which means things like the wonderful Kelly Macdonald being cast as the mother of MacKay’s Toby feel entirely unbelievable (MacKay actually feeling like a bit of miscast all around tbh). But if you’re willing to suspend all disbelief and sink into that Butterkist coma, it’s all silly fun and games.