by Patrick Bromley
For more than half of its running time, director Adam Schindler's debut feature Intruders cleverly defies expectations, setting up a movie we've seen and quickly taking a hard left to become something different. It's refreshing and it's exciting, particularly within a genre (horror/thriller) that has a tendency to reward a film's ability to conform to certain tropes. Intruders is hardly revolutionary, but it's surprising enough to keep the viewer on his or her toes. That alone carries a certain charge.
Once it starts explaining its own mysteries, the air rushes out of the movie. It's an all too common occurrence, as answers are rarely as compelling as questions. To the credit of Intruders, it asks some intriguing questions for a while. The majority of movies don't.
I'm not particularly a fan of the home invasion genre, yet I find myself drawn to the movies like this and Adam Wingard's You're Next that invert it and turn it on its head. I don't know if that's because of my own anxieties about being attacked and utterly powerless or because I love movies in which justice is served (even if that justice is blood-soaked revenge). Intruders starts out as a home invasion movie and then turns into something different; I won't say it completely turns the tables on the antagonists (the way You're Next does), but it has some really fun tricks up its sleeve.
It's difficult to talk about my issues with the movie without being specific, which I don't want to be here. The screenplay begins to explain some of the movie's more puzzling and intriguing developments, and those explanations offer not only disappointing context for what has come before but also use some exposition that's of questionable taste. Movies don't have to be tasteful, of course -- particularly horror (or horror adjacent) movies like this one -- but there's something icky about how casually and conveniently Intruders introduces certain elements for the sake of wrapping up a little indie thriller. These ideas might deserve more consideration.
Intruders is currently available on VOD and iTunes.