The directorial feature film debut from Paul Leyden, an Australian writer / director, is the 2014 psychological horror film “Come Back To Me”.
The film opens in Reno, Nevada in 2002 with 14 year old Dale (Andrew Beckham – “Santa’s Little Yelpers”) sitting watching TV with his pet rabbit whilst the sounds of domestic violence come from his parents’ bedroom.
He goes to investigate and finds his bloodstained mother Eileen (Maura West – “As The World Turns”) begging for help before the door slams on him. The police arrive shortly after to find that his mother has apparently been murdered by his blood soaked father (Steve Rizzo – “Nightmare Code”).
We then switch forward to present day Las Vegas where we find a young married couple. The wife, Sarah (Katie Walder – “Shelter”, “The Neighbor”), gets up to find her husband cooking breakfast, but is keen to go back to bed as she wants to start a family.
Her husband, Josh (Matt Passmore – “The Glades”, “McLeod’s Daughters”) says that he doesn’t have time as he needs to get to his job as croupier at a local casino but also suggests that they go and introduce themselves to their new neighbour that has just moved in across the street. We later discover that Josh is secretly attending fertility clinics as he fears he is sterile.
When the neighbour opens his door he introduces himself as Dale (now played by Nathan Keyes – “The Kings Of Summer”, “The Key”) and accepts the couple’s offering of cookies – though disappointed that they are not homemade. He tells Sarah that she reminds him of someone.
Sarah bumps into Dale one day whilst at the supermarket, where he is working, and he insists on carrying her groceries to her car and loading up for her.
Sarah starts to experience what she perceives to be blackouts and finds herself waking suddenly with a feeling of disorientation and no memory of what has recently happened other than vague scraps of nightmarish dreams. A scar on her forehead also mysteriously vanishes.
She discusses her problem with her friend and doctor, Leslie (Laura Gordon – “Saw V”, “Alien Strain”) who is pregnant. Leslie tells Sarah that she had experienced similar problems herself until her psychologist suggested that, as a single woman, she was feeling vulnerable and should get a dog for company, and that she hasn’t suffered the problem since.
When Sarah discovers that she has become pregnant Josh is understandably upset as he has had confirmation that he is sterile and couldn’t, therefore, be the father. Sarah is adamant that she has not been unfaithful but an angry Josh storms out to go and stay with a friend.
It’s clear to the viewer that Dale is somehow messing with Sarah, somewhat akin to a “Columbo” tale, but what exactly is happening and how is not revealed for some time.
Once the truth is out, things take an almost supernatural turn and do require something of a suspension of disbelief. Nonetheless, it is a novel twist on what was already a tense tale. Some of the “twists” are admittedly telegraphed to the viewer well in advance of the actual “reveal” but some of them are totally unexpected.
The movie is based upon the novel “The Resurrectionist” by Wrath James White.
None of the leads were previously known to me, but I felt that the acting was of good standard and the movie as a whole pulled together very well. Keyes and Walder, as the two main protagonists, were both very good – particularly Keyes who managed to portray Dale’s mixture of childlike innocence and coldly calculated young man.
Add to this a rather cruel twist of fate right at the end and you have a pretty original and entertaining movie…