Tapping into parental fears, writer-director Andrew Semans paints a memorable portrait of a sadistic relationship, one that may serve as a potent warning for teens. This thriller is about control in a relationship, and it illustrates how it can be difficult to understand why some people give up control over their decisions, actions, and lives to a demanding partner. To do this, Semans creates an unbelievable circumstance in a grounded environment -- and then sells it. Is Margaret losing her sanity, or is the mild-mannered man she keeps seeing in her community actually intending to do her harm? Is he stalking her, or is she stalking him? Either way, the story that unwinds presents a clear example of grooming and "gaslighting" (i.e., convincing someone that their reality isn't real).
Margaret and David aren't just characters, they're psychological profiles. And yet they're chillingly authentic. Their interactions aren't relatable and, at times, are actually so surreal that it may result in viewers scoffing, but Hall and Roth's performances are searingly sharp. Margaret is so "together" in every way, and David is so mild in his demeanor, that it undermines stereotypes about who establishes -- and who falls into -- deeply toxic relationships. Ultimately, Margaret's Achilles' heel is her fierce need to protect her daughter, and the film could serve as an odd but perhaps effective device for parents who want to help prevent older teens from falling into a controlling relationship.