This psychological quasi-thriller isn't ingenious or weighty enough for arthouse slots, nor suspenseful enough to scare up much mainstream bigscreen trade. Still, offshore tube and VOD buyers might find it an intriguing diversion.

Houseguests who won’t go away fill a lonely widower’s manse with obnoxious and sinister behavior in “Invasion,” a German-language feature from Republic of Georgia-born writer-helmer Dito Tsintsadze. This psychological quasi-thriller isn’t ingenious or weighty enough for arthouse slots, nor suspenseful enough to scare up much mainstream bigscreen trade. Still, offshore tube and VOD buyers might find it an intriguing diversion.

Retired from an indeterminate career (though it’s suggested he was “a great man” in whatever field he worked), Josef (Burghart Klausner) scarcely knows what to do with himself in the rambling North Rhineland ancestral home in which he’s lived alone since his beloved wife died. He’s visiting her grave when accosted by vivacious redhead Nina (Heike Trinker), who claims to have once been her close friend, and who’s traveling with adult son Simon (David Imper). They insinuate themselves sufficiently to get an invitation to stay overnight when the hour grows late. Next morning there’s a genial parting, and that seems to be that.

Now craving company, however, Joseph soon finds himself offering more permanent shelter to aspiring martial arts teacher Simon and his beautiful emigre wife Milena (Anna F). Before he knows it, they’re joined under his roof by the latter’s young son Marco (Jasper Barwasser), the perpetually soused Nina, and her lover Konstantin (Merab Ninidze), who starts brandishing a gun and using the premises to meet shady clients.

Redolent of home invasion/usurper tales from “The Servant” to more conventional recent thrillers, Tsintsadze’s tale has flecks of grotesque humor and an eventually high mortality rate. Yet its low-key approach never really commits to psychological perversity or to straight mystery-suspense, hewing to a middle course that in the end is neither particularly credible nor arresting. For all the heavy portent of conspiratorial intent, the guests finally seem as hapless as they are pushy, vulnerable to a final turnabout that’s less than convincing on several levels.

Nonetheless, there’s enough going on here to keep one curious as to how it’s all going to turn out. The thesps do a good job lending color to sketchily conceived characters, especially Trinker and Imper, who milk their self-absorbed figures’ eccentricities to caustically amusing effect.

Packaging is pro, but deliberately spare in terms of stylistic touches, featuring a straightforward visual presentation and minimal use of music.

Invasion

Germany-Austria

Production

A Pallas Film, Wildart Film and Twenty Twenty Vision production in association with Ard Degeto and Orf Film/Fernseh-Abkommen. (International sales: Pallas, Halle, Germany.) Produced by Karl Baumgartner, Thanassis Karathanos, Ebba Sinzingr, Vincent Lucassen. Directed, written by Dito Tstintsadze.

Crew

Camera (color), Ralf M. Mendle; editor, Karina Ressler; music, Gio Tsintsadze; production designer, Jutta Freyer; costume designer, Nadine Kremeier; sound (Dolby Digital), Alex Koller; sound designers, Eric Mischijew, Matz Muller; assistant director, Bohdan Graczyk. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (competing), Aug. 27, 2012. (Also in Munich Film Festival.) Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Burghart Klausner, Anna F, Merab Ninidze, Heike Trinker, David Imper, Jasper Barwasser.

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