Wednesday, May 6, 2015

In short: The Intruders (2015)

Warning: spoilers are a fact of life!

I have a terrible confession to make: I don’t loathe PG-13 horror movies and thrillers and their sisters and brothers with the burning fire of a thousand suns as all good horror fans are supposed to do. In fact, I not just don’t mind them; some of them, I even downright enjoy. Of course, there’s a bit of the quality of an assumed taste to this particular genre. Or rather, these films, dear long-time horror fan, aren’t actually made for an audience with a lot of genre sophistication – and neither for one that can’t live without huge amounts of blood and gore or metaphorical depth. These films, I suggest, are really the replacement of the classic TV horror movie, at least that part of the canon of classic TV horror nostalgic horror fans do not like to speak rather highly of – horror films and thrillers one might be able to watch with one’s grandma and genre films parents of a nervous disposition might allow their teenage kids to watch. Now, if this kind of audience actually still exists today (are there really people who don’t know the most basic genre tropes?) is a different question, but I didn’t make my market research roll, so I don’t have an answer to that one.

Adam Massey’s Canadian produced The Intruders is a case in point for what these films tend to be: a former Disney kid (Miranda Cosgrove, who is not unexpectedly a perfectly decent actress) in the lead, character actors like Donal Logue and Tom Sizemore in supporting roles, and a script that really seems to be written for an audience that has no clue about the old “He’s been inside the house all along” trope, setting up red herrings so obvious my grandmother (and yeah, I really tested it) doesn’t fall for them, making some decently melodramatic noises about mental illness and loss (oh, if only that part of the film and the rest of the plot were connected by more than the mere concept of mental illness), and constructing serviceable thriller scenes.

Not surprisingly, the whole affair feels decidedly on the cozy side to me, which is a bit strange when you keep in mind that the whole idea of a (crazy, murderous) stranger living secretly in your home with you is just plain creepy however you put it, but is most probably a result of the film’s inherent PG-13-ness, where you can be sure that things will turn out alright for everyone, and where nobody involved is actually ever aiming for hitting its audience where it hurts.

And if you go into The Intruders expecting not more than some very traditional scares – though I have to commend the film for the nearly complete absence of jump scares – and just as well-worn thriller tropes, I honestly think there’s fun to be had here. At the very least, there’s quite a bit of filmmaking competence on display, and while that may sound like I’m damning with faint praise again, it’s just the right thing for those times in life when you don’t actually want to be too disturbed or very excited by a film.

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