Creating suspense in everyday scenarios

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A common trope observable in recent cinema history is grand, impending peril. You could probably name dozens of movies off the top of your head that place the planet in perilous positions. But viewers are beginning to see the problem with this: there is no suspense. When is the last time a movie came out and the world really was conquered? When have we ever seen an atomic explosion end all life as we know it up on the big screen? We haven’t and we won’t. It would make for a bad movie. For this reason, films are beginning to scale down and switch up the plot, and “I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore” is a film that kicks up the suspense from a not so intense situation. 

The film opens to a young woman named Ruth, played by Melanie Lynskey, who is struggling through life as of late. She works as a nurse’s assistant and has just seen one of her elderly patients pass, which drives a certain phrase to rattle throughout her head: none of it matters. 

To make things worse, when she returns home from work, she finds that her home has been robbed. The perpetrators took three items; a laptop, a set of silverware from Ruth’s late grandmother and some prescription medicine. The police are no help when they show up, appearing to show little interest or hope in the case. Frustrated, Ruth leaves to spend the night at a friend’s house in the wake of her home invasion.

When she wakes up, she returns to her home, eager to discover the culprit who broke into her house. While knocking on neighbors’ doors looking for answers, she finds one particularly interesting character listening to death metal while lifting weights outside. Tony, played by Elijah Wood, is particularly piqued by Ruth’s predicament and offers to help out in any way he can. Tony is a testament to 1980s culture and slightly more socially adept than Kip from “Napolean Dynamite.” She recruits Tony’s help one night when she discovers the location of her laptop through her phone and goes to get it. With her fast talking and Tony’s medieval morning star, the two retrieve the laptop from the house and begin a quest to recover the other items stolen from her home, where things quickly spiral into chaos. 

The movie’s ability to create suspense where there should be none is its greatest asset. Watching someone walk around a consignment shop looking for silverware shouldn’t be exciting, but the dynamic between Lynskey and Wood is so intense that it captivates the viewer during every scene. The two give an understated performance that mimics what we experience in everyday life; Ruth gets cut in line at the grocery store, encounters obnoxious people on the road and stutters when confronting people. She is a more relatable hero than any in recent memory, and the little details of her character stand out in a special way. 

Tony is hilarious and in some ways a perfect foil for Ruth while mirroring her. His over confidence in his martial arts skills and love for hardcore metal music don’t exactly coincide with his rat tail haircut and big rimmed glasses, and many easily see through his facade. 

The movie gets slightly out of hand at some points, introducing events that stem a little too far out of the realm of possibility for the attitude this film presents to you in the beginning. 

Despite this flaw, “I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore” delivers twists and turns that will keep audiences engaged while ending on a divisive conclusion that will please some and infuriate others.