What starts out as direct social commentary on class and privilege quickly turns into a disturbing horror film.I Came By stars some accomplished British actors and initially doles out several gripping twists. But does it bring home a satisfying ending?
Probably not, given the confusion over the identity of a particular person in a particular basement. Also, when it looked like certain characters would survive, they ended up being cremated off-screen. Let’s delve into the casing of this frustrating movie.
Spoilers ahead. Content warning: sexual violence, self-harm, suicide
The first is the first. Is that Ravi in the basement?
The answer is no. The man chained up in Hector Blake’s (Hugh Bonneville, of Downton Abbey fame) basement is definitely not Ravi. How do we know?
For one thing, the time would be far away. Blake told his masseuse Omid (Yazdan Qafouri) that while he was growing up, his family had a young Persian-Indian helper named Ravi. His father “found him working in his factory and decided to take him under his wing.” Blake says that he himself was a “little boy” at the time and was later sent to boarding school at age 9. who appears to be Blake and a much taller one who appears to be Ravi. All of this indicates that Ravi was probably older than Blake, so the young man found chained in his basement must be someone else, probably another migrant worker. Blake’s backstory reveals that he despised Ravi, and it seems that he is still out for revenge to unleash his fits of rage on more victims.
The main reason we know the man isn’t Ravi is because IMDb lists the prisoner’s name as Said and says Tarik Badwan plays him.
Who is Hector Blake?
That is Mister Hector Blake. He was sent to Birlstone School as a third year student. He later studied law and became a High Court judge, but recently retired after 30 years. He was considered a “saint”, known for his “philanthropic work on behalf of refugees”. He was involved in a prominent fictitious case with Kazima Ajang in 2016, according to a letter he receives from a student asking if he will read his dissertation (he promptly throws it in the trash).
All this is a thin veil that hides the true identity of Blake. Toby reads about Blake and discovers that his family were all “die-hard colonialists”, his father owning a factory. Blake resigned as a Supreme Court justice after a year, calling the court too “white and elitist” to apparently deflect attention from his own grim history.
He also reveals that his wife is in Chesham House, a mental hospital. He regularly plays squash with Police Superintendent William Roy and, more importantly, likes to watch Rick and Morty.
What are Blake’s motivations?
Why does Blake drug immigrant workers and imprison at least one person in his basement? Much of his creepy conversation with Omid when he invites him to his luxurious home reveals his motivations.
Blake says that his father invited Ravi to live in his house “as a member of the family”. Finally, he invited Ravi “into his bed.” According to Blake, this drove his mother to suicide. Blake was the one who discovered her with her wrists open. Sent to boarding school, Blake believed that his father had replaced him and his mother with Ravi. He calls Ravi a “peasant” and says that he “hated” him.
A line said by Toby’s friend Jay (Percelle Ascott) at the beginning of the film, referencing a portrait of Blake’s father, suggests that Blake is acting the same way as his father. “Is that your old man? I can see the resemblance.” Blake proceeds to look at the portrait meaningfully.
Blake might be gay too, but the “rage” inside him is “so hard to suppress” when it comes to the boy he hated growing up: Ravi. Blake may struggle with his hatred for anyone who echoes Ravi, as well as his sexual feelings for them. This could be why he keeps Said alive and trapped in his basement, similar to how his father kept Ravi his prisoner, more or less.
What happened to Ravi?
“I thought I killed him, one summer when I came home from school. I pounced on him like a wild beast,” Blake tells Omid. “I almost smashed his face in.” Toby discovers a photograph of Ravi with the side of his head bloodied, apparently as a result of this attack.
We never hear the end of the story, so it’s understandable to connect the dots and think that Ravi was the prisoner in Blake’s basement, not Said. Blake potentially treated Ravi the same way he treated his other victims: killing him and burning his remains.
What happens to Omid?
After Omid manages to escape from Blake’s house despite being drugged, Blake essentially blackmails Omid into his car, warning him that he has the power to stop or speed up his application for permanent residence in the UK. We later see Blake in his basement, holding Omid’s phone, which has a blood stain on it. Omid can be heard banging on the secret room door, yelling to be released (by now, Said would have been moved to Blake’s other secret room in his garage). Blake’s clothes are missing, suggesting that he and Omid had sex before Blake caught him, or that Blake is simply burning his clothes and any evidence of blood. Blake then cuts Omid up and incinerates him in his kiln (which belonged to his pottery-loving wife), just as he did with Toby and later his mother Elisabeth.
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