Intruders Can’t Quite Capitalize On Its Home Invasion Twist

Some horror movie premises are a bit like comfort food. Fans are willing to eat them up even if the presentation looks like something recycled from much better movies. Case in point, there’s always still a little mileage in home invasion movies. Just the idea of a stranger trying to break into the one place you feel safe offers potential scares if executed with even a modest amount of skill. Though it never saw much of a theatrical release, Intruders boasts an interesting premise – what if the helpless victim was the predator? It’s a concept that would be mined to much greater effect a year later by Don’t Breathe.


For years Anna has lived a lonely existence with her terminally ill brother, Conrad. An agoraphobic, Anna hasn’t left her family home for years – a home that shrouded in dark family secrets. But after her brother’s death, a trio of criminals assuming the house will be empty for the funeral break in looking for a hidden stash of family money. Instead they find Anna and a dark secret that will quickly turn the tables on the intruders.

Intruders Introduces an Interesting Twist … But Doesn’t Know What To Do With It

Straight out of the gate, Intruders tests the limits of the maxim, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it‘. From Wait Until Dark to Copycat to Hush, we have seen several variations on the ‘helpless and trapped’ home invasion angle. Fortunately, director Adam Schindler doesn’t waste much time cutting to the thriller’s action. Intruders sets the table with a genuinely moving scene between agoraphobic Anna and her dying brother, Conrad. Though it’s not a unique set-up, writers T.J. Cimfel and David K. White don’t overburden the scenes with too many clichés. Bottom-line, Intruders initially sets up its protagonist as a sympathetic character while teasing potential twists around the corner. It’s enough to forgive early plot similarities and contrivances.

On paper, Cimfel and White’s middle-act twist feels like something that should breathe some life into a movie that’s treading on familiar ground.

Once Intruders introduces its ‘home invaders’ Schindler teases a ‘cat-and-mouse’ game that ends all too soon. What little tension Intruders generates feels squandered as the story introduces its first curveball. On paper, Cimfel and White’s middle-act twist feels like something that should breathe some life into a movie that’s treading on familiar ground. It’s worth noting that it’s an idea that predates Don’t Breathe, which plays with the same concept. Yet Intruders doesn’t do anything interesting with the new story direction. In fact, the thriller feels like it hits a standstill that only picks up slightly for a clunky finale.

Intruders Too Pedestrian To Sells Its Premise

What’s missing from Intruders is the intensity and tension its twist promises and fails to deliver on. From its midpoint onward, Intruders feels like a pretty pedestrian thriller. Schindler et al. tease a ‘Torture Porn‘ or exploitation fare-style twist on the home invasion subgenre. But there’s nothing here that remotely approaches that comeuppance we’re expecting for our ‘intruders’. Instead, the thriller sidetracks with a pseudo-psychologically exploration of trauma that never registers and character arcs that aren’t particularly interesting. Though it’s always watchable, Intruders rarely rises to the level of compelling or suspenseful.

But there’s nothing here that remotely approaches that comeuppance we’re expecting for our ‘intruders’.

In addition to it lack of edge and tension, Intruders suffers from a ‘villains’ problem. Don’t consider this to be a criticism of the performances. Across the board, the performances in this home invasion thriller are fine. Not surprisingly, Rory Culkin shines brightest as he demonstrates the same natural charisma that has made him a standout in HBO series Succession. However, none of the trio of villains register above mildly threatening. It doesn’t help that the screenplay sticks the actors into tired tropes. And the decision to eliminate the most interesting of the ‘intruders’ prior to the climax is a disservice to this thriller. Beth Riesgraf does the best she can with what she’s given but her Anna feels flat and at no point really compels much in the way of sympathy despite her traumatic past.

Intruders Remains Watchable Despite Never Cashing In On Its Potential

While Intruders is a perfectly watchable home invasion thriller, there’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before in much better movies. Nothing about the premise is as clever as Schindler et al. seem to think. Most viewers will likely have figured out the twist long before it happens. And the execution feels oddly flat. If all of this sounds overly negative, Intruders is a perfectly acceptable middle-of-the-road thriller that will hold your attention from start to finish.


Posted by

I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.