Friday, January 29, 2016

Turn Tables: “Intruders” tautly devised with a subversive streak

Intruders (2016)
90 min., rated R.

First titled “Shut In” (the name of a Naomi Watts thriller opening in July) and then named “Intruders” (not to be confused with the 2012 Clive Owen thriller), “Intruders” is as familiar as its moniker but only in its logline. As a home-invasion suspenser, the film still doesn’t much care about reinventing the wheel completely, but it is a nasty piece of work, that you can be sure of. Once debuting director Adam Schindler and writers T.J. Cimfel and David White (who wrote the “Vicious Circles” segment in 2014’s “V/H/S Viral”) do show their hand, the film averts expectations by bucking the rote path with the use of misdirection. Without cheating or telegraphing its pivotal narrative turn too much before it makes the switch, “Intruders” is unabated with a savage, subversive streak.

Anna (Beth Riesgraf) is an agoraphobic who hasn’t left her Louisiana family home in a decade. She lives to take care of her brother, Conrad (Timothy T. McKinney), who’s dying of pancreatic cancer. When her crippling condition prevents Anna from getting out the door the same day as Conrad’s funeral, she is soon startled by three men coming into her house. Before this intruder situation, Anna tried to give a portion of her family’s jackpot fortune as a way to start anew to Dan (Rory Culkin), the friendly deliveryman who always brought her brother’s daily meals, but he couldn’t accept it. The men, brothers J.P. (Jack Kesy) and Vance (Joshua Mikel) and loose cannon Perry (Martin Starr), didn’t expect Anna to be home but a whistling tea kettle gives away her presence, not that she could leave anyway. It’s obvious the intruders are looking to steal the young woman’s hidden fortune, and it’s not long before Dan shows up, but aside from her agoraphobia being one weakness, Anna isn’t as fragile as she looks.

Whether or not it be the corner-cutting result of budget constraints, “Intruders” is a savvy example of small-scale storytelling. With a plausible reason for Anna to not leave the house, the film gets away with staying in one location and milks it for tension and claustrophobia, making everyone a shut-in. The labyrinthine structure of Anna’s house itself also plays a big part, more than one staircase leading to other areas of the house and secret passages opening. When push comes to shove, Anna does use her resources (not to mention her seemingly meek disposition) to her advantage. Read the rest of the review here at Diabolique Magazine.

Grade: B - 

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