Though it doesn’t maintain a particularly intense level of suspense through the entire runtime, Every Breath You Take is nevertheless a successful and engaging ode to genre classics. The film evokes late 80’s/early 90’s psycho-sexual thrillers like Fear, Fatal Attraction, Poison Ivy, and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, only the lunatic this time around comes in the form of Sam Claflin. After one of his clients commits suicide, psychiatrist Phillip (Casey Affleck) introduces the surviving brother, James (Claflin), to his wife, Grace (Michelle Monaghan), and his daughter, Lucy (India Eisley). It takes no time at all before Phillip’s family is completely ripped apart—stabbed endlessly by suppressed tragedy, and cruel vengeance.
Still reeling from the loss of the youngest son, Phillip and his family are all grieving in their own separate, lonely ways. The film is less interested in the specifics of their grief, instead inserting a dangerous outsider to stir the pot. James forces himself into the very fabric of their lives, with all three members of Phillip’s family falling prey to his schemes. James’ descent into madness is brought to life in a convincing way; Sam Claflin’s performance is the perfectly over-the-top. The cast is very good, and the direction from Vaughn Stein frames the thrills in an exciting way. I couldn’t help but contemplate the version of this film we would have gotten otherwise. In June of 2012, director Rob Reiner was set to direct, with Harrison Ford and Zac Efron set to play the roles filled by Affleck and Claflin, respectively. It’s an amusing what-if scenario, but in the end, Every Breath You Take had a cast and crew of creatives that made a polished product, even in the wake of the 2020 pandemic.
Fans of the genre will enjoy this slick throwback thriller full of jaw-dropping twists and turns. The film opens with a tragic car accident set piece in the first two minutes. Building up a shaky atmosphere, every time a character got into a vehicle after this put me on edge. Highlighted by an unhinged turn from Sam Claflin, Every Breath You Take comes to select theaters and premium VOD on Friday, April 2nd, distributed by Vertical Entertainment.