Film Review: Intruders (★★★)

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intrudersTo some degree, what you think about other films of this ilk will affect how you judge Intruders. This home invasion thriller isn’t as clever or genre busting as You’re Next sought to be, but at the same time, it’s hardly a run of the mill flick either. In that realm, it could come down to how much you like a movie such as this to stick to the expected tropes. If you want it cut and dry, you’ll likely find this different enough to be original but still towards that realm. If you want it as unique as possible, this might come up a bit short, though not for a lack of effort. For me, Intruders is a solid enough mix that it’s worth recommending. Director Adam Schindler and a game cast seek to make something that both follows the conventions of the genre while also going off in some new directions. Schindler, nor screenwriters T.J. Cimfel and David White, are trying to re-write the book on how to do this sort of a flick, but they’re definitely interested in not going down every previously traveled road. It’s a mixed bag of a thriller, but when you add it all up, the good does slightly outweigh the bad, allowing me to offer up a recommendation.

The hook here is that the home being invaded belongs to a woman named Anna (Beth Riesgraf) who happens to be agoraphobic. She never leaves the house, really only interacting with the outside world when she’s visited by her regular delivery guy Danny (Rory Culkin) or her lawyer Charlotte (Leticia Jimenez). As such, when her terminally ill brother Conrad (Timothy T. McKinney) passes away, she’s unable to go to the funeral. Thing is, a trio of burglars were counting on her being out so they could rob the joint. Quickly, JP (Jack Kesy), Perry (Martin Starr), and Vance (Joshua Mikel) realize that Anna is there, not able/willing to leave, and needs to be taken care of. That’s when they discover that Anna is better equipped to deal with this than she’s let on. The second half of the film, and especially the third act, go off in a different direction than what’s come before, but it all does serve as a concentrated thriller. The set up is minimal, the downtime is sporadic, and the tension is palpable. The third act is a slight letdown, but it’s hardly a deal breaker.

photo_03_-_h_2016Movies of this type don’t normally have a whole lot of acting to write home about, but Intruders bucks the trend. It’s a small cast, but everyone brings an intense A game. Beth Riesgraf slowly reveals the layers to her character, becoming much more than just a scream queen. In fact, if you remember Sharni Vinson from the aforementioned You’re Next, you’ll be closer to the right track. Riesgraf is someone to watch. I also enjoyed getting to see Rory Culkin build off of his top notch work last year in Gabriel, though his character here is far lower key. Martin Starr is a highlight as well, since he’s known for his deadpan comedy (or surprising dramatic skills in last year’s Amira & Sam) and not his sense of menace. Here though, he’s pretty badass. Jack Kesy and Joshua Mikel are solid as well, with the smaller supporting turns going to the previously mentioned Leticia Jimenez and Timothy T. McKinney. It’s a small cast, with those names basically being it, but combination of Culkin, Riesgraf, and Starr make this a home invasion thriller with far better acting than you’d probably expect. Riesgraf especially could be going places, so remember that name.

Director Adam Schindler shows a nice aptitude for raising the tension level throughout this film, along with smooth visuals that never really call attention to themselves. Intruders slightly overplays its twists, thinking they’re more unexpected than they are, but that’s not especially Schindler’s fault. He embraces what scribes T.J. Cimfel and David White came up with, yes, but they all seem to be more focused on just telling the story effectively. It’s a no frills production, that’s for sure. Again, it’s nowhere on the level of You’re Next, but if you have that out of your head, this offers up enough to enjoy.

Basically, if you like this sort of a film, you’re probably going to dig Intruders, to one degree or another. I don’t think anyone will prefer it to You’re Next, but anything is possible. The execution here is smooth enough to offer up a small scale recommendation. Don’t go in expecting the genre rules to be re-written, as you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment, but if you can see the little twists and turns as bonuses, that’s another story. When you get right down to it, Intruders isn’t great, but it is good enough to recommend, so there’s that…

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!