Saturday, January 30, 2016

Intruders (2016) There's No Place Like Home. Especially When You Can't Leave....

Movies about home invasions always seem to catch my eye, so when I saw the trailer for "Intruders", my interest was piqued.  For some ungodly reason this film's title changed from the enigmatic "Shut In" to the hackneyed, stale current name. And the movie's tagline "They should have left her alone." pretty much gives everything you hadn't already guessed away.   Regardless, Intruders is a relatively good addition to the sub-genre, at least until the final act.

Anna (Beth Riesgraf) suffers from agoraphobia so intense even stepping onto her porch sends her into waves of anxiety.  She lives in a big ol' house with her only companion, her brother Conrad.  Unfortunately, he has his own medical condition to deal with...pancreatic cancer.  We're shown these tidbits right away, so that when Conrad inevitably dies, we know that Anna will have a lot of things to deal with in addition to grief.  

Without her brother as her link to the outside world, all she has is her family's lawyer who is trying to tie up final wishes, and the semi-charming Dan (Rory Culkin) who brings her food everyday from a meals-on-wheels type of program.  Anna and Dan form a friendship of sorts, so that when he sees her dealing with her sorrow, he's able to lend an ear and a bit of comfort.  He tries to convince her that now that the situation is changed, maybe she'd finally want to leave the house, try to make a new life for herself.  While Anna is utterly against the mere thought, she does feel a type of sympathy at Danny's dead-end job and offers him some of her family's money that she's been hiding away for years.  He politely refuses. But this will not be the end of that thought.

Because we were privy to a few short conversations at the beginning of the film, we know that Conrad wanted Anna to forgive their father, who apparently did something ghastly and reprehensible. Anna wasn't hearing any of it, so it's hard to imagine why she wouldn't want to leave the house in which these unmentionable things occurred, but Anna must have her reasons, right?

The day of Conrad's funeral, Anna prepares herself to venture outside, knowing that she needs to attend.  She lays out her clothes and even goes as far as to actually get dressed...but in the end she is just unable to get herself out the door - her anxiety is so palpable and SO distressing that it gives those of us with no fear of the outside world a little taste of the profound dread people with this condition must deal with. 
Anna instead wallows in self-pity by making some tea when she hears someone pulling into the driveway.  Peeking outside she realizes there are three men intent on breaking into her house, obviously thinking she would be at the funeral.  She hides, and they do gain entry by breaking the glass in a door, and just when you think she may be able to hide until they are gone, the tea kettle whistles.  Alerting the intruders that they are not alone, they quickly surmise that Anna must be in the house somewhere.  They seem to know who she is and that there is a sizable amount of cash somewhere that they want to get their hands on.  Even when Anna tries to make a run for it, she is crippled with fear and unable to save herself.  The trio of men find her and after a quick assessment realize she's not going anywhere.  But what they don't know is that neither are they.

Intruders has a great opening act, setting up the rest of the film by shedding light on Anna's emotional handicap that makes her unable to deal with not only her affliction, but reality.  She's been closed up in her house for ten years, since her father died, and those two facts intertwine for what may be a predictable yet still engaging story-line with more than a few surprises in store. 

 The trio of money-hungry trespassers (Jack Kesy, Joshua Mikel, and Martin Starr) are somewhat stereotypical criminals, with one being the "leader", one being the brute of the gang, and one is sympathetic to the victim and unsure of how far he wants to go.  That being said, they do a respectable job in their roles and the film loses nothing from their casting.

Admittedly, I think the last third of the movie loses some momentum and it's possible the writer(s) weren't quite sure how to give us the shock and awe ending we deserve, but Intruders is not overly long and the pace is kept going at a very acceptable rate.  The whole of the film is carried by Riesgraf, who in my opinion did a stellar job of projecting her fear onto the audience and was able to garner some serious sympathy for her condition.  All the more satisfying when the tables turn and our criminals realize Anna may be meek and damaged, but she's not afraid in her own home. And she's not leaving unless it's on HER terms. 

All in all, you could do a lot worse than checking out this newest addition to the home invasion sub-genre.  It's not breaking down barriers or throwing us any serious original content, but it is a 90 minute thriller that has solid acting including a very believable lead, some decent moments of gore and a house that has some tricks up its sleeve.  

But they still should have left the title alone - Shut In is so much better!

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