I Came By, directed by Babak Anvari (the man behind the excellent Under the Shadow), is occupied by characters suffering from a case of broken families. Toby (George MacKay) has lost his father and has a strained relationship with his mother, Liz (Kelly Macdonald). His best friend Jay (Percelle Ascott) had a mother who constantly changed men, all of whom were abusive towards him. Liz counsels a boy named Faisal, who wants to study computers but is forced to become a doctor by his mother. Hector Blake (Hugh Bonneville), a retired judge, lost his mother to suicide when his father started romancing a young boy (in one of the scenes, an old photo of him as a child gets cracked. Which visually reiterates that he had a broken childhood). The boy who massages Hector tells him his parents disowned him after learning about his homosexuality. Everyone in I Came By needs to check into therapy, but they end up getting involved in crimes and investigations.
Toby and Jay are graffiti artists. They break into the homes of the rich and paint "I CAME BY" on their wall. The intention is to spread the message that even money can't guarantee your safety from outside threats. But when Jay's wife becomes pregnant, he decides to back off from doing such risky stuff. Toby, though, is not looking for a break. He decides to break into Hector's house alone without help, and that is where he finds something horrific in the basement.
Toby may want to prove that even those who are wealthy can be vulnerable (he easily pickpockets a man in a suit at the railway station), but the movie counters this claim by making Hector immune from the law. He has a superintendent friend, and Hector uses this contact to his advantage when two police officers come to search his house. When he senses a police officer could find a clue if she stays any longer in his basement, he deliberately gets himself arrested because Hector knows he wouldn't be thrown into jail and that this trick would divert the officer's attention. Hector is aware of his invulnerability, and this character comes across as a self-confident, powerful, and deranged maniac in Bonneville's hands. You don't need jump scares when you have someone as vile and scary as Hector.
I Came By doesn't depict violence explicitly, but its suggestion is enough to color the whole film with bleakness. The flushing of ashes or the sound of a drilling machine is more than enough to convey defeat and hopelessness. A cut from a bat hitting someone to it getting sliced in half fills you with terror. It's crafty in indicating broken limbs and other unspeakable acts that might have been committed.
One thing Toby does is he steals and throws away the TV remote. A remote can help you control something the way you want, but in I Came By, nothing happens according to the characters' wishes. Their life is out of control, and nothing goes as per the plan. A rescue operation goes wrong, good people die, couples separate, and a policewoman is unable to put a culprit behind bars on her own (even if she really wants to). Sure, there is a happy ending here where the bad guy gets what he deserves, but we don't find ourselves elated. How can we celebrate when all we think about is the fact that it took a long time and many deaths to arrive at this particular moment? Justice is served, but one cannot ignore the losses.
Final Score – [8.5/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
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