Intruders (2016)

Posted by Joel Copling on January 19, 2016

"Intruders" is ugly. There's no way around that very curt takeaway regarding a screenplay by T.J. Cimfel and David White that begins as a certain film and makes a rather blunt shift toward something else entirely just before the halfway point. It's not that the shift is a cheat. If anything, there's a bit of pitch-dark but karmic humor to it that showcases an ingenuity that the events following the shift unfortunately do not. Nevertheless, this is a nasty movie with unsavory things to be said, not only about the woman we are meant to rally behind, but also about the bad men in her midst whose problems are either solved with violence or with a proverbial twist of the knife.

Anna (Beth Riesgraf) is now the last surviving member of her family. Her brother Conrad (Timothy T. McKinney) has just passed from pancreatic cancer, and she, being severely agoraphobic, fails to gather the courage of attending his funeral. Charlotte (Leticia Jimenez), the lawyer executing his will and managing the family estate (a suburban home Anna has not left since the death of her father), is disappointed and worried about the state in which Anna now seems to be, but Dan (Rory Culkin), the sweet, young man who delivered food to the house, seems to understand her plight and take pity on her. She offers him money; he refuses, feeling that the movie was an odd one at such a precarious time.

He also makes the mistake of telling his friend Vance (Joshua Mikel), who reels his brother J.P. (Jack Kesy) and their buddy Perry (Martin Starr) into a plan to rob Anna of her money. What they don't count on is Anna's resourcefulness within a house of which she has been a permanent inhabitant for ten years. The film gains some goodwill, especially upon the introduction of the criminals (who are not entirely without understanding of Anna's condition or the intelligence to at least stay one step behind her, rather than several staircases away). Unfortunately, what follows a cat-and-mouse game around the house to find the woman is consistently underwhelming.

And alarmingly nasty. Cimfel and White devise so many been-there-done-that machinations against which the midway twist would like to work that the only ingenuity present is found within that twist. What it has to say about humanity is borderline-irresponsible by the final shot, which wants to be a zinger and is really just a shrug-worthy cut to credits. Riesgraf is solid in the opening act when building up sympathy from the audience, and Kesy is quite good as a very bad man who comes up against a threat he wasn't anticipating. I'm skirting around a very obvious twist, but that's all "Intruders" does before giving it to us. It's not a very good twist.

Film Information

Beth Riesgraf (Anna Rook), Jack Kesy (J.P. Henson), Joshua Mikel (Vance), Martin Starr (Perry Cuttner), Rory Culkin (Dan Cooper), Timothy T. McKinney (Conrad), Leticia Jimenez (Charlotte).

Directed by Adam Schindler and written by T.J. Cimfel and David White.

Rated R (violence, language).

90 minutes.

Released in select cities on January 15, 2016.