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Film / I Came By

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I Came By is a UK thriller directed by Babak Anvari about a graffiti artist Toby Nealey (George Mackay) who targets wealthy homeowners. When he breaks into a house belonging to an apparently saintly former judge, Hector Blake (Hugh Bonneville), he learns that Hector is keeping a dark secret.

It was released in September 2022 on Netflix.


  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Hector is a despicable monster, but Toby is also a thief and delinquent with delusions of grandeur who treats his mom and friend like shit.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Lizzie is a psychotherapist who is counseling a young man on his strained relationship with his parents, but her relationship with her own son is in scrambles. They barely speak to each other and when they do, they yell; then, she throws him out of her house in frustration.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Not once but twice!
    • Toby, set up as the hero of the movie, is murdered by Hector at the half-hour mark.
    • Lizzie takes over as the protagonist after Toby's murder, only to be murdered by Hector as well forty-five minutes later.
  • Depraved Homosexual:
    • Hector's father, maybe, who engaged in a Questionable Consent relationship with his Parsi helper and caused his wife's suicide.
    • Hector himself, who kidnaps, rapes and murders young men in his home.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The crux of Hector's Freudian Excuse: his father had an affair with his Parsi helper, prompting his mother to commit suicide.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Hector has a fame as a saint, having championed the rights of minorities through his career and even retiring after calling out the terrible bias of the justice system. And who keeps poor immigrants locked down in his basement to rape them. Initially seeming to be a case of Affably Evil, as the movie goes on his facade slips more and more revealing the true monster behind it: the first time the police comes to his house he makes a not-so-veiled threat toward them when they open the door to the basement, going back to polite only once they close it. The second time he drops the act immediately when he has a chance to be face-to-face with the lead detective, a black woman, mocking her inability to do anything. When he tells his story to Obid he constanly makes casually classists and racists remarks, which Obid points out but he just ignores it, and in the end he throws away Naz's thesis with a look of contempt and without even reading it, Naz being an Indian woman, not to mention poor, the cases he is supposed to champion. And despite his reputation for helping refugees, he has no qualms about using Obid's asylum request against him. While his reaction to Obid calling him racist shows that, on some level, he seems to actually believe his own lies about championing minorities, the truth seems to be closer to Toby's initial assessment, and it's actually a way for him to clear his conscience and feel better about himself. Hector's real nature is foreshadowed by the fact that he keeps a painting of his father in his living room, despite them having supposedly antithetical moral values, but it turns out that Hector instead is very much like his father, more than he himself wants to admit.
  • Fictional Fan, Real Celebrity: Hector is a fan of Rick and Morty. It also doubles as a Take That!.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Though Naz is in her early twenties and training as a solicitor, she and Jay are instantly adamant that she won't get an abortion.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: What Toby thinks he's doing with his graffiting and scamming of bourgeois households. As the movie shows, it's far from the truth, and when he ends up with the chance to actually do something against one of them he fumbles it terribly and gets himself killed.
  • Kick the Dog: Hector throws away Naz's dissertation without even reading it.
  • Kill the Poor: While Hector's victims are mostly chosen for being young men/teenage boys, he's shown to choose people from low socioeconomic backgrounds deliberately.
  • Police Are Useless: Even though they are tipped by Toby that something's wrong with Hector, and later urged by Lizzie to look into Hector again, and also told of what Hector did to Omid, they don't take any of it seriously. And that's not even getting into the blatant mis-use of police power by Hector's police friend, who uses his power to release Hector because Hector is his friend!
  • Politically Correct Villain: Invoked, but Averted. While Hector's career involved support for minorities and the downtrodden, this is exclusively part of a public persona and he's actually dismissive of these causes at best, as shown when he tosses out Naz's dissertation which is about the subjects he supposedly cares about without reading it at all.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Toby, with his "I Came By" act. While there are merits to the idea, the movie shows other graffiti artists questioning how effective it actually is, and ends up amounting to little more than annoyance for his victims. Even more importantly, it isn't even his idea in the first place, since it was Jay who came up with it, and Jay doing the lion's share of the work, being the one who found the places and secured the entrance and writing some of the graffiti, with Toby only working on the graffiti, and not even all of them. Yet Toby considers it a sort of holy mission and a cause worth devoting his whole life to, with no regards for the people around him.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Omid had just escaped being drugged and kidnapped by Hector and is keeping away from the police due to being an asylum seeker. When Hector shows up in a car and requests he get in, Omid obliges. While Hector does threaten to stop his asylum request, it won't mean anything if he's dead, which Omid becomes soon after. That said, his asylum request being denied would just result in him being sent back and, presumably, killed as well, so it's really more a Morton Fork at work.
    • Toby. He charges in a room armed with a hammer against a cricket bat, yelling to deny his surprise element and not even bothering to use the peephole the he knows is in place to make sure about the position of his target. As a result, when he enters Hector is acutally facing the door and a good number of steps away from it, a reaction time that his final confrontation with Jay shows to be more than enough for him, with a much better weapon. Even if he didn't slip on the poodle immediately, his attempt was pretty much doomed.
    • Toby's actions to deal with Hector as a whole can be wrote off as this. Despite all his speeches about Hector just being a corrupt part of the system, after finding out that he keeps a human hostage in the basement his first idea is to call the police on a white, male former judge coming from a wealthy family, with just an anonymous and pretty vague call. Predictably, the police doesn't take it too seriously, and Hector is easily able to use his status to send them away. He doesn't go to the police with more details nor does tell anyone about what he saw (he tries to tell Jay, to his credit, but after being sent away once he doesn't try again or tell about it to anyone else), meaning that there are no connections left between him and Hector, and if it wasn't for Jay it would have meant that his disappearance would have never been traced to him in any way. The haphazard calls confirms to Hector that the intruder is onto him, giving him a reason to plan a trap pretending to go out one night just to lure Toby in. A trap Toby falls all too easily for, never even considering that Hector might have seen it coming. Then, after actually managing to hide from Hector, instead of going away and waiting to come up with a better plan later he tries to take Hector himself immediately, rushing the job and resulting in his death, as described above and below.
  • Undignified Death: In a valiant attempt to attack Hector and rescue the prisoner, Toby charges into the cell, where he promptly slips on a puddle of piss, falls flat on his face and spits out blood. Hector subsequently beats him to death with a cricket bat, cremates him and flushes his ashes down a toilet. The same supposedly happens to all his main victims, and unfortunately Toby's mother as well.