The Infernal Machine review – unconvincing reclusive writer thriller

Reclusive British author Bruce Cogburn (Guy Pearce) guards his privacy fiercely. Trespassers on his compound in an obscure corner of the American midwest will, he says, be shot. With his amiable northern English accent he sounds at times like a paranoid and heavily armed version of Alan Bennett. And Pearce’s voice performance is not the only incongruous element in this deviously convoluted but fundamentally unconvincing thriller. Cogburn is the author of a single book, a controversial novel titled The Infernal Machine. His career ended 20 years earlier, after a disturbed young man killed 12 students with an assault rifle and then claimed that the book instructed him to do it. But now an obsessive fan has located Cogburn, luring him out of seclusion.

The score is compellingly offbeat, flirting with church bells and what sounds like Tibetan prayer bowls, but the rest of this nervy, sweaty thriller gets a little bogged down in layers of futile intrigue.

  • In cinemas now