Deadly Virtues

One ordinary Friday night, a man (Edward Akrout) enters a nice house in a nice neighborhood somewhere in England, and makes himself at home. There's just one little problem: it isn't his house. It belongs to a nice married couple, Alison and Tom (Megan Maczko and Matt Barber), who are extremely startled when he interrupts them during an intimate moment. But in Deadly Virtues what starts as a simple story of a home invasion takes several sharp turns along the way.

For one thing, the stranger knows more about Alison than he should, since she doesn't seem to recognize him. He terrorizes them both, but It's Tom who takes the brunt of the physical abuse -- he gets thoroughly tied up and left in the bathtub for the stranger to torment and maim whenever he sees fit -- whereas Alison suffers mainly from the intruder's psychological torture. When she disobeys, it's Tom who pays the price, yet towards her the mystery man is almost gentle... in a psychotic and manipulative sort of way.

But as the weekend unfolds and the stranger settles more and more into playing house with Alison, roles become increasingly and disturbingly blurred. As he learns more about her, he stops keeping her tied or on a leash (he's apparently very into shibari). He talks to her -- more importantly, he listens -- and it seems as though it's been quite some time since Alison had anyone do either. By the time the sun comes up Monday morning, lives have changed in unexpected ways.

It's the dynamic among the three leads that really makes the story, or more specifically the separate dynamics of Alison / Tom and Alison / the stranger as she becomes increasingly caught up in the struggle to survive the weekend. Megan Maczko shines in her role, conveying volumes with a look, while Edward Akrout is equally convincing as sociopath and charming suitor by turns, or at times both at once. Matt Barber has the most thankless role but still manages to make it work well.

I'll give it four out of five. The look and feel of the film is very polished and professional, which also serves to make the more unsettling scenes particularly startling. It might have been improved by delving a little more deeply into the psychological aspects of the situation, but even as it stands it's a movie that grabs your attention and keeps it. It will also give you one or two more things to be paranoid about, so fair warning.

The stranger with his favorite tool. He's really into the whole rope thing.


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