In a certain type of horror movie, childhood sexual abuse is something like a rocket ship from Krypton or a radioactive spider: a comic-book origin story that transforms a victim into something like a monster. The trope is offensive when considered seriously, and it mars Adam Schindler’s otherwise absorbing home invasion thriller, Intruders.
Beth Riesgraf plays Anna, a woman who’s left alone in her family’s house after her brother succumbs to cancer. Word gets out that she’s sitting on a substantial pile of money, and burglars come for it on the day of her brother’s funeral. One problem: Anna has crippling agoraphobia (another effect of her traumatic childhood) and can’t bring herself to attend — so she’s home when they arrive, but also unable to flee.
Onto that high concept is layered another one, preposterous and fun: Her house is actually a giant trap, and once she frees herself, she’s able to use it to turn the tables on her pursuers. (A nice touch is the simple controller that activates the automatic locks and retractable staircase — it looks like a Seventies-era cable box.)
There’s satisfaction in watching the predators become the prey, and Schindler doesn’t allow our sympathies to rest too long with any one side. Like the house, the movie is something of a shifting puzzle box; if only the backstory that turns its gears weren’t so rotten.
Directed by Adam Schindler
Opens January 15, Cinema Village