It’s slow and subtle psychological horror (the poignant production design parallels are powerful here, as is the intentionally convoluted time/place/person-jumping script) that ditches easy “losing mind” thrills in favour of a meaty, beating-heart character drama core which Hopkins masterfully drives home to the homelessness of the crushing final scene (“I have nowhere to put my head down anymore”) with the many emotions of the journey (confusion, anger, and bittersweet charm and ignorance).
Less a suspenseful thriller than a delicate drama that captures in whispers and patient takes all the agonizing horror and supernatural spookiness of loss, loneliness, grief, and fear. Great turns by the main four players make for many memorable scenes of dialogue (see Lynn and Cole in traffic; Malcolm and Anna at the end) that anchor a satisfying plot and a twist ending that makes sense in the best possible way. The chilly and transitional season of fall makes for a perfect setting for it all.
The extracurricular king of Rushmore preparatory school is put on academic probation. (IMDb)
Anderson’s expertly artful direction (beautiful framing, distinct and thoughtful camerawork, and yummy set/character details) and oft-oddball script (“I’ll take Punctuality”; “I’ll take the tuna fish”) here is filled out nicely by a set of complex characters (led by the ambitious adult-teen hybrid Max) and nuanced (if not super deep) relationships within a solid dramedy script, providing the viewer with nearly as many emotional moments of satisfaction (“That’s my Max!”) as pure cinematic ones.