by Christie Robb
An academic coach to the children of the one percent, Ethan (Garrett Hedlund, Tulsa King), agrees to take a job that’s too good to be true.
A $2,500 a day under-the-table paycheck and housing on premises lures him into the life of Jackson (Noah Schnapp, Stranger Things), a highly-strung 17-year-old with boundary issues and a murky family life. But, Ethan has a baby on the way and the promise of extra cash helps him to tamp down his misgivings.
All is not as it seems, however. As Ethan spends more time with his client and the weird inhabitants of the mansion, it becomes clear that someone’s life is in danger.
Jordan Ross’s (Thumper) thriller doesn’t exactly tread new ground, but it is a solid entry in the genre. The movie has a dark academia aesthetic with a score that plays like classical music’s greatest hits.
Writer Ryan King’s story is a bit sketchy at the beginning. Some of the characters could have been developed more in the earlier scenes. Ethan and Jackson’s relationship, in particular, could have profited from a smidgen more screen time together before things start to take a turn.
But the final acts are rewarding enough to watch and there are plenty of red herrings scattered throughout to make guessing at the ending enjoyable. Hedlund becomes wonderfully unhinged as the film goes on and he plays off of Schnapp’s creepy kid-in-a-turtleneck pretty well.
Overall, the film could have used more character development, but it nails the vibe.