Reviewing VOD movies no one has ever heard of and most people will gladly continue to ignore certainly isn’t something you do for the glory. But there’s a rare, specific joy to finding one that really is worth that extra time and attention and knowing that maybe you can help boost a worthy underdog.
Normally I find these in the B-action realm, under-seen vehicles for people like Dolph Lundgren or Jean-Claude Van Damme. Intruders, however, comes from a different genre altogether. I’m not 100% sure what that genre is, but it’s definitely not a movie about dudes in fighting tournaments or cops shooting drug dealers.
Intruders (originally titled Shut In, which might be the superior name) tells the story of Anna, an agoraphobic trying to deal with the aftermath of her brother’s recent death. She hasn’t left her home since her father died a decade ago. Her fear of the outside is so strong, she cannot even bring herself to attend her brother’s funeral. The closest thing she has to a friend is a food delivery brat played by Rory Culkin.
Anna has money, and it doesn’t take long before three thugs (played by Martin Starr, Joshua Mikel, and Jack Kesy) break into her home to steal it. Even if Anna wanted to escape, her agoraphobia keeps her captive in the house. Intruders’ twist, however, is that Anna doesn’t want to escape. She wants to fuck these guys up and has a crazy horror house specifically designed to do just that.
Beth Reisgraf is perfect as Anna. Petite, blonde, and alarmingly beautiful, we have every indication that we should read her as a damsel in distress, though one may sense an underlying weirdness to her. Once she turns the tide on her captors, all those features harden into something more sinister. The film doesn’t take her all the way into the realm of an evil villain, though. She exists somewhere between the two extremes. We don’t hate her, but she makes us very uncomfortable. It’s a tightrope walk not many actresses can accomplish.
Martin Starr’s involvement is also interesting. Of the three intruders, he plays the psycho, the one most eager to maim and kill Anna. Starr’s characters frequently utilize meanness, but seeing him play someone so violent and cruel without any punchline is a little off-putting and unnatural. It feels more like stunt casting than a genuine matchup of actor and role. On the other hand, it's always fun to see Martin Starr.
Because the movie robs us of any clear victim, it doesn’t feel quite like a horror film. On the other hand, Anna really torments these guys in ways that make you feel a bit sorry for them. And once we learn the full purpose and origin of this crazy house, we enter into straight drama mode. Intruders is a film full of reversals and left turns, but it’s nearly impossible to define without giving up and just going with the bland and not very informative “thriller”.
Nevertheless, it’s one you should definitely see, if only for its uniqueness or perhaps for the fun of watching what is essentially an R-rated Home Alone film. Intruders isn’t perfect, to be sure, but it’s the kind of original film you always hope to find among the many VOD releases we get each year.