At first appearing to be a typical siege/home invasion thriller, Intruders is a reverse-cat and-mouse story set in a family home with a disturbing history. Similar in tone to films like You’re Next and Panic Room, Intruders is directed by first-time filmmaker Adam Schindler and is written by T.J. Cimfel and David White.
The film follows Anna (Beth Riesgraf), a young woman suffering from agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder where the sufferer perceives an environment to be extremely dangerous. Having not left her home in over ten years, Anna spends her days either caring for her dying brother, Conrad (Timothy McKinney), or talking with local delivery boy, Dan (Rory Culkin). Still too afraid to leave her childhood home even when Conrad succumbs to his illness, Anna can’t even bring herself to attend her brother’s funeral. Consumed with guilt, Anna’s day only gets worse when she is attacked by three intruders (Joshua Mikel, Jack Kesy and Martin Starr) who have come to steal a large sum of money that they believe is hidden somewhere in her house. Though Mikel, Kesy and Starr’s would-be robbers believe they can get away with the money with no one the wiser, they soon learn that they’ve underestimated Anna’s abilities and phobia. Quickly finding themselves at her mercy, they attempt to escape the house while discovering its dark secrets.
What Intruders does so well is playing with the audience’s expectations of the characters. When first introduced to Anna, we’re led to believe that she’s a naïve victim of sorts, a character whose life has become completely overwhelmed by the caretaking of her brother and her phobia. However, we learn that her agoraphobia is not the only facet of her character and that she is actually far more cunning than we’re initially led to believe.
The film’s intruders also manage to be more than your standard home invaders. While the intentions of Mikel, Kesy and Starr characters are certainly bad, they’re personalities manage to shine through, and prevent us from thoroughly despising them. Mikel and Kesy are brothers in the film, and though they only have several interactions with one another, their relationship keeps them grounded. Even Starr, who is the “crazy” of the band of thieves, is very funny and provides a significant portion of the humor throughout the film.
Like any good thriller, Intruders is exceptionally well-paced and manages to throw in several enjoyable twists. In addition to exploring the origins of Anna’s agoraphobia, we also explore her childhood home through the eyes of Starr, Mikel and Kesy. The state of the house is what you might expect when it’s being lived in by a person who hasn’t stepped out of it on over ten years. Thousands of newspapers, assorted household items and heirlooms are stacked in tall piles, with many rooms completely buried in junk. It’s only when the intruders go to the basement that we see a place that is notably in stark contrast with the rest of Anna’s home. Along with discovering the basement’s secret compartments and traps, we also learn that the house is very much like Anna’s mind. Though she’s been crushed by life for well over a decade, deep down she has the capacity to follow through on things that most people hesitate even considering.
Thanks in no small part to Schindler, Cimfel and White, Intruders manages to be a consistently enjoyable film throughout it’s 90-minute running time, and is well-worth seeing for its performances alone.
Intruders opens in cinemas and is available on VOD January 15, 2016.