Horror is evolving as a genre. Although your local multiplex is still loaded with the usual contenders, look a bit closer and you’ll find the latest drama, thriller, or crime offering is closer to horror than you might expect. In this bi-weekly series, Joey Keogh presents a film not generally classified as horror and argues why it exhibits the qualities of a great flight flick, and therefore deserves the attention of fans as an example of Not Quite Horror. This week, it’s Macon Blair’s I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore.

Actor Macon Blair made a serious impression on audiences in high school buddy Jeremy Saulnier’s superb revenge saga Blue Ruin (in which he was the star, and often sole on-screen presence) and its follow-up Green Room (where he played a torn wannabe white supremacist and expert cleaner-upper). Now, Blair is venturing behind the camera himself in a big way.

I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore sees the criminally underrated Melanie Lynskey finally gifted a leading role worthy of her considerable talent as Ruth, a pissed-off nursing assistant who snaps after her home is burglarized and the inept local police seem at best unfazed, at worst completely disinterested in her case.

I Don't Feel At Home maskTeaming up with Elijah Wood’s rat-tailed, Ninja star-throwing metal-head Tony, Ruth sets out to take revenge on those who have wronged her, their odd couple team-up squaring up to local gangsters, opportunistic hackers and everyone in between. If it sounds like it could have been a Saulnier film, well, that’s probably intentional.

The talented writer-director’s fingerprints are all over Blair’s debut, but it’s also unequivocally his story, his (mad) vision. The actor, who enjoys a clever cameo as one of the unthinking assholes Ruth encounters in her day to day life, showcases a control of narrative and execution, particularly when it comes to the violence, that belies a more experienced filmmaker.

Much like his buddy’s previous two movies, I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore takes in the picturesque Pacific Northwest landscape, most notably in a chase sequence through a forest with more than gun-toting psychos lurking in the undergrowth. Unlike Saulnier, however, Blair’s sense of humour, although similarly pitch black, is a touch goofier, which lends itself well to this material.

I Don't Feel At Home carOne shot of Wood, in particular, is genuinely hilarious. His Tony provides most of the laughs throughout, the role a significant departure for the talented character actor in much the same way Maniac was. Tony may not be a lunatic, but he’s definitely a weirdo and his blasé attitude to life perfectly complements Ruth’s (a celebration dance between the two is adorable).

I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore is the second 2017 release with an ass-kicking heroine named Ruth as its focus. The other, Alice Lowe’s terrific black comedy/horror/revenge nightmare Prevenge, would make a fine double feature with this, the two movies both working off the idea of previously complacent women finally taking charge of their destinies and leaving paths of destruction in their wake as a result.

In both cases, the resulting chaos is bloody but entertainingly so. It’s still something of a novelty to see a woman in this kind of role, but Lynskey (and Lowe herself, who is the lead in Prevenge) takes to it with considerable aplomb. She’s well-served by Blair’s whip-smart script and clever concept, his far from run of the mill revenge tale a remarkable debut for a burgeoning talent that straddles the line between horror and comedy expertly.

Catch I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore on Netflix now