If you like thrillers, you will love this film. If you don’t like thrillers… you will probably still enjoy this! But, like me, you might have a few moments where you want to hide behind your popcorn. James Ashcroft does not disappoint in his feature film directorial debut. The film follows a high school teacher forced to confront his past when he encounters a couple of ruthless drifters who have sinister plans for him and his family.
Ashcroft’s background in theatre was apparent through this flick. He managed to hold and release tension throughout the entire film without once letting go of the underlying threat of danger. The film starts in a nerve-racking way but becomes more tense and twisted as the story goes on. The stand-out performers were the beautiful Aotearoa countryside (the film was shot around Upper Hutt) and Miriama McDowell, who played the lead’s traumatised wife.
Despite in some ways being a quintessential New Zealand production, Coming Home in the Dark does require you to suspend disbelief throughout several periods that are interrupted with American-style gratuitous violence. Some of the true terror of the film is at times lost in this style of violence that is distinctly un-New Zealand and thus, unbelievable. However, without having any jump scares the sharp dialogue will leave you with a knot in your stomach, wondering whose mouth will fire the next shot. It’s a film with a kicker ending that will leave you with more questions than it answers.
“Three (point five) out of five.”