In “Intruders,” a trio of would-be burglars surprise a woman alone at home when they thought she’d be out — unaware that she’s an agoraphobic and doesn’t go out. But she has unpleasant surprises of her own to spring on the uninvited visitors in this quasi-horror suspense exercise, whose third act is a bit of a letdown after the intriguing setup. Nonetheless, debuting feature helmer Adam Schindler’s thriller is a lively effort that should engage genre fans primarily via home formats. After traveling the fest circuit as “Shut In,” the pic is slated for U.S. theatrical release under its new moniker early next year.
Anna Rook (Beth Riesgraf) still lives with brother Conrad (Timothy McKinney) in their family home. He’s gravely ill with pancreatic cancer, but even he gets out more than she does — she refuses to accompany him even to the porch, as stepping across the front-door threshold is too much for her. We glean that some of this phobia is likely connected to the late father she says she’ll never forgive “for what he did,” although for the time being his misdeeds are (and to a certain extent remain) murky at best.
Conrad soon dies, leaving Anna alone; her only more-or-less friend is amiable take-out delivery guy Danny (Rory Culkin), and her sole other visitor is the lawyer (Leticia Jiminez) who’s trying in vain to get her to sign off on her brother’s willed last wishes. Apparently news of Anna’s affliction hasn’t penetrated the entire local populace (the pic was shot in Shreveport, La.), because several loutish locals presume she’ll be attending Conrad’s funeral and decide to take advantage. Too startled to call police before the phone line is cut, she cowers and hides as ringleader JP (Jack Kesy), mean-tempered Perry (Martin Starr) and comparatively harmless Vance (Joshua Mikel) break in to ransack the place for hidden loot. (It turns out they think there’s a considerable sum of the latter laying around because, in an impulsive moment of generosity, Anna offered some to Danny, who is Vance’s younger sibling.)
The thugs soon realize the house isn’t as empty as they expected. Since they did not take the trouble to wear masks and aren’t smart enough to refrain from blurting out each other’s names, it’s clear they’ll need to cover their tracks in some way very injurious to Anna’s health. Meanwhile, Danny shows up, providing another person to be temporarily if not permanently silenced. Anna proves resourceful, however, escaping to the basement — where, unbeknownst to her assailants, the house is already well equipped to deal with strangers.
This tables-turning twist does kick the narrative up a notch, turning a taut but conventional woman-in-jeopardy situation into something more unpredictable. As it turns out, though, this turn is more compelling in its unveiling than its development; T.J. Cimfel and David K. White’s script could have used a few more clever twists as the Rook family’s dark history comes to bear on the fates of JP and his accomplices.
Less than a home run, then, “Intruders” is still an efficiently engineered suspenser, with solid performances and a tight pace. Polished tech/design work encompasses an old-school, orchestral-sounding score by Frederik Wiedmann.