Hipster Alchemist’s review published on Letterboxd:
This devilishly stylish thriller left me in a trance. Deeply dissatisfying in the most satisfying way. I think the movie could be alternatively titled "Why You Should Carry A Gun"
The first third of Edward's novel is possibly the tensest thing I have seen all year. How strange that the novel portions of the film felt more real than the cold and impersonal "real life" parts. The whole novel storyline chilled me to the bone. I haven't been this rattled watching a film in a while. Michael Shannon, Jake Gyllenhaal and, most notably, Aaron Taylor Johnson made the movie.
The movie-within-a-movie creates a sense of tension and makes the real world feel like a thriller, despite the fact that nothing violent occurs in Susan's real world and we have no reason to expect that it will. This is fantastic meta-cinema, and I loved the ways it played with our interpretations of art, and especially with our tendency to see ourselves within artwork.
Everything in the movie felt it was supposed to leave you with raw negative emotions whether it was disgust, horror, sadness, pain, grief. I think they executed that well. The way the story unraveled in reality and in the book was unique at least to me. I hadn't seen anything like that and I thought it was profound. Great film.