I really dig home invasion movies – If I ever become important enough to have my own drinking game, y’all would be taking a shot every single time I mention Funny Games and you’d have alcohol poisoning immediately. I’m not sure what the appeal has been for me, really. I think it began with Panic Room, the element of the daughter being a type 1 diabetic was particularly frightening to me as I have the same illness. I guess that is why horror is a little cathartic for some us – They’re fictitious experiences that allow us to voluntarily face our fears head on, especially those out of our control.
This aforementioned interest I feel is exactly what piqued my interest when faced with the opportunity to consume IFC Midnight’s latest feature, TRESPASSERS. Shortly after hitting the play button I was graced with some serious The Strangers vibes, but with a desert setting as a backdrop. I don’t know about you guys, but desert horror is my favorite dish and I’ll happily overindulge in it until I painfully bloat myself.
Two couples find themselves renting a beautiful, modern vacation rental in Mojave, California for a weekend getaway. Suspicions arrive early when their hosts of the property are missing in action, but it is a horror movie, so you know they’re brushed away almost as quickly as they appear. I thought the relationship dynamic between the small group of old friends to be interesting as well, reminding me of 2015’s reunion based slasher, Most Likely to Die. This, along with a metric ton of drama surrounding the interpersonal relationships onscreen, really appealed to the lover of teen-horror in me.
While on the subject, I will be totally honest here and tell you that only one of our main characters here is not a total garbage heap of a person. Of course, she has a history of trauma, which makes the fact that she is surrounded by immoral, selfish jerks all the more dispiriting. But hey, this awful characterization is common in horror – We call it fodder! So yes, stupid horror movie people are most definitely in abundance here. There is an especially heinous, coked out jackass that I was literally wishing death upon in each scene – I won’t spoil anything, of course, but y’all need to understand the sheer level of annoyance I felt. Effective filmmaking? I’d say so!
Not unlike The Strangers, the party here is interrupted by the doorbell at an obscene hour. It becomes very apparent that something is seriously wrong upon answering, as the stranger claiming to be a neighbour is just weird and off-putting. And though I have sworn time and time again never to spoil anything in my reviews, I’m forced to break my own rule in this case. Who is the stranger you may ask? Fairuza. Balk.
If you’re anything like me, you lose your damn mind whenever your preferred genre actors appear on the screen, and Fairuza is it for me. I was already fully on board with the prospect of this film, but Fairuza was the nail that sealed the coffin. She is just too good at what she does, and she shines just as much here as she does everywhere else.
I won’t give anything else away, as I’ve undoubtedly revealed what I considered to be the greatest gift offered here. I will say that shit continually hits the fan throughout the rest of the movie, leaving me slack-jawed a handful of times. I wouldn’t say that it is as bleak as Funny Games, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes the lite version is what we need – A fun break from reality that won’t leave you feeling displaced, you know? The cinematography was absolutely gorgeous, I’m a sucker for anything that overdoses on Argento lighting, and it had enough plot twists to hold my interest.
I mean, there is still cringe-inducing gore, and the story definitely is pretty messed up. I’m getting self-conscious about calling it ‘lite’ given that it is still fairly heavy, just not as heavy. Maybe my mind has been corrupted by over-indulging miserable movies, but if I’d have to summate it simply, TRESPASSERS feels like a home invasion midnight movie that won’t put you at risk for a week-long depression. TRESPASSERS arrives in New York, Los Angeles, and On Demand July 12 from IFC Midnight.