Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively in A Simple Favor.

I missed A Simple Favor during its theatrical release—and it’s a film that provides many pleasant surprises.

This is director Paul Feig’s follow-up to his execrable Ghostbusters, and quite a change of pace from his straightforward comedies (Bridesmaids, Spy, The Heat). While this is also classified as a comedy, it’s a dark comedy along the lines of Heathers, with a nice Hitchcockian mystery at its center.

The criminally underappreciated Anna Kendrick stars Stephanie, a widow and mom who finds herself essentially nannying for new friend Emily (Blake Lively). Before long, Emily goes missing, and Stephanie slowly but surely starts to replace her as a mother and wife. Emily is believed to be dead … and then things start happening.

Kendrick is funny as the confused mom who tries her best to have a career (she has a semi-popular video blog) while harboring some dark secrets. Lively does career-best work as the alternately mean and nurturing friend who can’t stand her humdrum life.

A Simple Favor is a welcomed return to good filmmaking for Feig. Thank god he won’t be commandeering any other films featuring proton packs.

A Simple Favor is available via online sources including iTunes and; it’s also available on DVD and Blu-ray.