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Movie Review: Intruders

intruders poster

@dinsmorality reviews...

Director: Adam Schindler
Writer: T.J. Cimfel, David White
Stars: Rory Culkin, Leticia Jimenez, Jack Kesy

Review                     

In 1960, as part of the promotion for his upcoming film, Alfred Hitchcock warned viewers to NOT purchase a ticket for Psycho if one were planning to do something oddly ubiquitous in that era of movie-going: walking in late. And not just 15 minutes late. We’re talking halfway through a movie. It was common for Madison Avenue-types in gray flannel suits to catch the last act of a movie during his lunch, knowing all too well that the cops would arrest their elusive bank robbers, the evil cowboy would lose in a draw to the town sheriff, or the boy, who met his girl in Act I, would fall in love just before the credits rolled.

Well, we know Psycho’s twist changed all of that, and only a long line at the concession stand for the must-have, over-priced popcorn would make someone late.

Not only did Psycho change the way we view suspense and horror, but it allowed audiences to consider the inner-lurkings of seemingly benign, even beautiful people. (Uncanny how Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates character precedes and resembles the real Ted Bundy.) This narrative that we see in the horror medium is something we audiences take for granted, but any replication of “Hitchcockian Origin” can be done, and done extremely well. Intruders is one of those films.

The premise of Intruders is the only familiar element of this film. We meet Anna, a beautiful, yet troubled soul played by Beth Riesgraf. Anna, who suffers from agoraphobia and has not left her home in 10 years, is the primary caretaker for her brother who is dying of terminal cancer. The two share a secret about their past and the behavior of their father, hinting of past abuse and unsettled trauma (afflicting Anna more than her emaciated brother). 

Anna’s only contact with the outside world is through a young, sensitive delivery food-service driver Dan, played by Rory Culkin. She and Dan conversate about dreams deferred – for Anna, it’s her fear of leaving the house, for Dan it is simple economics. In a strange move, Anna offers Dan a lot of money to fulfill his dreams (literally, a paper bag filled with 100-dollar bills), but he refuses, and her dreams, oddly, appear squashed, even if they were only to be realized vicariously.

intruders image

Within minutes of the film, Anna’s brother dies (something spoiled in the trailer), and inevitably a funeral service ensues. Yet Anna, grounded by her disorder, dresses for the event but never attends. Instead, three men – our title intruders – break in the home looking for the money that Dan initially refuses. (Dan is not one of the intruders.) At this point, it seems clear to the audience what will transpire. Perhaps Anna’s stereotypical damsel look, blonde locks flowing in distressful dashes up the stairs, will somehow evade and attack, or she will succumb to the horrors of this unholy trinity as we saw in both versions of The Last House on the Left

Not so, for as the synopsis of the film reveals (and spoils – try not to read about this film or see the trailer beyond here…if you can), Anna’s agoraphobia is a consequence of her past she experienced in this home will be acted against our intruders in ways that perhaps all adults harboring resentment would find cathartic. It’s a cat and mouse game where no one really knows which animal they are, until they are forced to act in the name of trauma, or violence, or simple greed.

While the reveal will not break any new ground at a Hitchcockian level (can’t say much more without spoiling), Intruders works for today’s horror audiences and continues a trend of women in horror films facing their anxieties in nuanced ways. Think of the mother in The Babadook, or even Lauren Cohan’s character in the very creepy The Boy. Female protagonists carefully approach their fears – crazed killers are often metaphors for them – that would typically get their male counterparts killed. Anna is a survivor, and her story is a twisted therapy session for us to enjoy on one level, and to empathize on another.

Eric Dinsmore

Twitter: @dinsmorality

Image: IMDb & bloodydisgusting.com

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