WillDraugelis’s review published on Letterboxd:
Well, I can cross a vacation to the English Countryside off my list of places to go. Unless Jessie Buckley comes included with that vacation, then it might be worth it. No matter what I go on to say about this movie, I just want to start off by saying how incredibly well she did in this. I’ll touch more on it when I talk about the rest of the acting in this, but it didn’t feel right to not at least give her a shout out at the beginning of this review.
I’m not too sure where to even start with the movie, it feels like I watched two completely different movies. A sort of horror/thriller for the first two thirds and then a wildly different independent, A24 feeling type of movie. I enjoyed the first two thirds of the movie, it kept me on my toes, and I thought the score really helped to build a lot of suspense. I go on a lot of movie sites throughout the week, follow some interesting film people on Twitter, and come on this app, so I knew that there was gonna be a dramatic third act turn. I’m still not sure I was ready for the turn this movie took. Every movie that is made is trying to set up a hopefully satisfying conclusion to its story. Some movies have conclusions that are very big and grand in scale, but they feel earned, resulting in the viewer leaving the theater happy. Movies that come to mind for me that did this would be stuff like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or Promising Young Woman. Other times I think the filmmakers might overthink it a little too much and leave the viewer with a bad taste in their mouth walking out of the theater. I think of movies like this and Mother!. And while I most certainly like this movie more than Mother!, I think that it suffers from trying to say too much.
Alex Garland is a director that I really like and respect. Ex Machina is one of the best sci-fi movies to come out in the last decade if you ask me. I think what he was able to do with that, in his directorial debut is really incredible and if you want to know more of what I thought of that, go read my review on that. His next film Annihilation (which once again if you want to see my thoughts on go read my review), I thought was a bit of a step back, but still something that I thought was bold and overall, a pretty intriguing watch. But we seem to be having a law of diminishing returns on his movies, as I thought this was his weakest movie yet. Does this movie have something interesting to say about toxic masculinity? yeah, without a doubt. But the third act just gets a little too off the rails to effectively hammer that point home for me.
Now comes the fun part, where I get to talk about how good Jessie Buckley did. She was incredible in this movie and everything I liked about the movie (outside the score) was because of her. I feel like in horror movies most people just ask their leading lady to try to imitate Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween and be a scream queen of sorts. Which is why most actresses fall flat because no one is Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween, and it isn’t fair to ask someone to replicate her performance. But what Buckley does in this is so much more and I thought she was able to add another level to her performance by the scenes where she is just being more reserved. The rest of the supporting cast was fine, but I also thought pretty replaceable. Seen a lot of people praising Rory Kinnear, but I didn’t think too much of his performance. It didn’t feel like something Simon Pegg or any other British character actor could’ve brought to the part. Paapa Essiedu played the more interesting male character to me, but I’m not sure we got enough of his story to ever latch onto that performance. We just saw him in one moment really and then that moment played over, and over again, expanding on it a little each time. So, I think just something more about him would been able to add a little more to his performance.
I think this is also going to be a very, very divisive movie. I fall pretty close to right down the middle on this one. I can see the argument over not liking it, and I can also see the same argument for liking it. It is just all going to come down to each person’s thoughts on the third act. And for me the third act wasn’t enough to completely ruin what had come before, but it was enough for me to not give this movie a positive score.