I’ve been giving INTRUDERS a great deal of thought. It’s a film that has kind of haunted me since I saw it. To be honest had I not agreed to review the film I would have simply pondered for a bit and then moved on to the next thing. However over the last two weeks I’ve done a great deal of thinking about the film as I tried to write something up about it repeatedly with uncertain results.
Anna lives in a big mansion with her brother. Her brother is dying of pancreatic cancer. When he finally dies she is unable to attend his funeral because of agoraphobia. While she broods about not being able to go, three young men show up to the house and break in. They want the money that's in the house. She tries to hide but after they push her too far the real Anna is revealed and the intruders are the ones in peril.
That is a simple telling of the plot but what it doesn't reveal is the film’s tone. At the start it is a low key almost realistic one for the first half hour and it's extremely unexpected. Yes we know we are watching a film that will become a horror film, but in its way it feels like a drama. That then morphs with the arrival of the intruders into a typical home invasion story and then it morphs again when Anna is revealed to be truly nutsy fagin. Once Anna tells Rory Culkin that he has no idea who she is really things go banana shaped and I’m not sure what I think.
No that’s not right, I know what I think, the problem is I don’t know what I feel for the film. What I think of the film, is that it’s a nicely off beat film that is ballsy enough to take a well-worn plot and take it into unexpected directions. I admire its refusal to follow he typical path. On the other hand I don’t know if I like it.
The problem is the twist, or more what happens after the twist, which is that Anna gets the intruders into the basement, which is a kind of featureless pit and then the film becomes a gab fest. Yes things do happen, emotions flare and people die, but for me the tension drained. I liked that things were not taking a predictable course, but at the same time I got bored because the pacing of the film went from motion to talk.
I know a huge part of the problem with the scenario is that as written once the twist comes the possibilities of what can happen become kind of limited. There isn’t anything the guys can do until Anna lets them do so. The result is they start turning on each other which is fine, except that the characters aren’t as well drawn as Anna.
The lack of well written characters is particularly troubling for me when it comes to Rory Culkin. Culkin had knocked my socks off with what I thought was an Oscar worthy performance in GABRIEL about a disturbed young man trying to find his ex-girlfriend. Here however he has nothing to work with and comes off as a whiny twit.
INTRUDERS is a good movie but it frustrates me, it should be better. This is a film that nicely doesn’t do what’s expected but it can’t make that pay off. I like the film, but I don’t want to see it again. It’s a film I can say isn’t bad but I can’t whole heartedly get behind in recommending. Is it a nice stroll off the beaten path but it’s not as exciting as it should be.