February 2, 2020

Intruders (2015)
Grade: 55/100

Director: Adam Schindler
Stars: Beth Riesgraf, Jack Kesy, Rory Culkin

What it's about. A home invasion movie (also known as Shut In) with unlikely plot twists that veer into violent and twisted territory. Anna (Beth Riesgraf) is an attractive thirty-something blonde with agoraphobia. She hasn't left the house in ten years. She relies on a food delivery service, whose nice-guy young delivery man is Dan (Rory Culkin). Anna lives alone with her brother, Conrad (Timothy McKinney), who is terminally ill with pancreatic cancer.

Three hard men, who have heard stories about bags of money at the house from Dan, break into the house during Conrad's funeral. They are J.P. (Jack Kesy), the leader; Perry (Martin Starr), a sadist; and Vance (Joshua Mikel), who shows hints of humanity. They believe Anna will attend the funeral, but she is in the house, and hides from them.

Because it is a movie, it turns out both the house and Anna have dark secrets. Anna turns the tables on the would-be burglars, trapping them in the basement and threatening their lives. Dan, concerned that Anna missed the funeral, visits her. She believes he is in cahoots with the intruders, and dumps him into the basement as well.

How others will see it. Intruders was released direct to home video. Somehow it picked up a trio of minor festival awards. At imdb.com, it has 11K user votes, a respectable number given its obscure release. It benefits from the presence of Rory Culkin, the brother of Home Alone former child star MacCaulay Culkin, whose career has found increasing success over the years. Beth Riesgraf is also a familiar face from many television appearances, especially "Leverage." Jack Kesy too has had success in the field, with supporting roles in the series "Claws" and "The Strain."

The cast is undeniably good. What about the director? Adam Schindler (not to be confused with Adam Sandler) must have agreed to work cheap, since Intruders is his only feature as director. Most of his imdb credits are as an assistant to a director or producer. Likewise, writers T.J. Cimfel and David White have precious few credits to their name.

Intruders is predominantly regarded as a so-so flick by its viewers. The overall imdb.com user rating is only 5.7 out of 10. 70% of grades assign a number between 5 and 7. A recurring comment is that the plot twists, while surprising, are preposterous, and the ending is a letdown. But most everyone likes the cast.

How I felt about it. The movie has an auspicious beginning, which is why I elected to see it all the way through. But it loses its way permanently around the middle, beginning with the revelation that the basement stairs retract via a remote switch. As the house becomes a house of horrors, complete with a bulletproof two-way mirror and a sound booth, the bogus factor becomes apparent. Kesy's soliloquies become longer and more tiresome, and Anna changes from a troubled but sympathetic woman into the lunatic killer from Roman Polanski's Repulsion.

While the film is eventually a shambles, it shows promise, especially in early scenes. There is at least one-third of a really good movie here. We just wish that the actors were given better plot developments to work with. In particular, Anna's backstory of incest, murder, and vigilante justice was a poor choice of where to take the film.