“Intruders [Shut In]” Review
Directed by Adam Schindler
Written by T.J. Cimfel and David White
Intruders is an independent film that was called Shut In when it was still going through its rounds in the fest circuit. It started out quite promising until it deteriorates midway through the end of the film.
Anna (Beth Riesgraf) is a single young woman who still lives with her ailing brother Conrad (Timothy T. McKinney), who is dying from pancreatic cancer. What’s interesting to note is even with his predicament, he gets out more often than Anna even if it’s only up to the front porch. Anna considers going outside the confines of her home unbearable, and it’s supposedly connected to the death of her father, who she says she’ll never forgive (due to undisclosed reasons, at the time being).
With her not being able to will herself to leave the house, the only connections she makes in the neighborhood is amiable food delivery guy Danny (Rory Culkin), and lawyer Charlotte (Leticia Jimenez), who is very adamant in making Anna sign off Conrad’s last will and testament. After Conrad dies, Danny drops by to make a food delivery, and ends up staying for a while to comfort a mourning Anna. They end up discussing leaving to deal with loss, with Anna arguing that the house is her home, and Danny not being able to leave due to financial difficulties. Anna then proceeds to generously offer Danny a paper bag full of money, which Danny respectfully declines.
On the day of Conrad’s burial, Anna works on preparing herself to go out and attend, yet even after multiple calls from Charlotte, she never found the strength to even put one foot out of the house. As it turns out, the neighborhood has no idea of her apparent agoraphobia or extreme fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places, which prompts J.P. (Jack Henson), his younger brother Vance (Joshua Mikel), and associate Perry (Martin Starr) to burglarize the house, expecting her to be attending the funeral.
The trio are surprised to find out that Anna is in the house, and shocked to find out that she can’t run away even if she wanted to, and that she has never left the house for ten years. Perry decides to tie her up and bring her outside, prompting her to scream in terror and wet herself, confirming she is indeed agoraphobic.
After trying to evade capture (while still being inside the house), Danny suddenly shows up and gets socked on the jaw by Perry. As it turns out, Danny has opened up about Anna’s situation (and current financial situation) to Vance, which he later on opens up to his brother, which in turn prompts the burglary. Vance corners Anna in a bathroom, and gets stabbed in the neck with a hairpin by Anna. By this point, the audience should finally realize that Anna isn’t really the best person to victimize, since she turns out to be a person who has secrets of her own. Using the sound of Vance’s body bumping the stairs as she drags his body down the basement, she effectively baits J.P. and Perry to find the source of the sound and check the basement, trapping them down after retracting the staircase (which turns out to be mechanized).
The film soon evolves into a Saw-esque thriller, with the victim becoming the tormentor, and the men who intruded the privacy of her home learning the deep and dark secrets she and her brother have harbored for the past ten years. The house has multiple hidden entrances and exits, and has multiple holding rooms for their sex predator victims, which was the outcome of Anna’s predation by her father, and Conrad’s eventual murder of him. Anna uses a PA system to speak to the perverts, making them own up to their sins, and asks them to prove how guilty they feel: and that’s by shooting themselves in the head with a revolver that has one round, prepared in a mechanized box inside the room.
The film starts out with a lot of promise and very tight writing, with Anna’s fear portrayed wonderfully without overacting. The shock of realizing that Anna is more than what she presents herself to be could have been done better. It’s obvious that Intruders took the liberty of getting inspiration from Saw, but the expectations of grisly gore and intricately detailed, mechanized contraptions of death and torture are totally absent. What you get instead is a red room with different household tools and a noose, a stabbed neck, a dislocated knee-cap, a bludgeoned head, and a shot to the chest. None of the tools of torture found in the red room were used, and instead of a slow, painful, visceral death scene, all the deaths were almost instantaneous. If you’re a big fan of gore, you’ll be sorely disappointed; that’s really all you’re getting.
All in all, Intruders is not exactly horrid, but it could’ve been better. It had a lot of promise, but it didn’t exactly deliver.