Trespass wouldn’t be the worst way to spend an hour and a half.
The name Joel Schumacher fills many movie fans with trepidation. The term “single-setting movie” is an equally precarious term, as a movie set in one locale runs equal risk of becoming either stagnant and/or overly contrived as it trudges on. Trespass being a single-setting thriller directed by Joel Schumacher is a doubly precarious proposition. So, does the film validate the doubt surrounding it, or is it a genuinely enjoyable, gripping thriller?
As with most things, the answer rests somewhere in the middle.
Diamond trader Kyle Miller (Nic Cage) and his wife Sarah (Nicole Kidman) are trying to keep their marriage on track, their teenage daughter Avery (Liana Liberato) out of trouble – and they’re struggling on both fronts. The family issues get put into perspective when a gang of thugs invade the Miller’s home looking for the money they know Kyle has in his safe. But Kyle is a shrewd businessman and knows that once he gives the goods over, his family’s lives are forfeit. So, with a mix of bravado and stubbornness, Kyle enters into a deadly negotiation with the crooks, hoping that his desperate gamble will somehow pay off.
Single-setting thrillers live or die by their ability to keep the audience invested in the moment and assured that the plot is unfolding in a single location for logical, organic reasons. Trespass at least succeeds in this task. The movie takes place in the Miller’s home because they’re being held hostage, and Kyle has a legitimate piece of leverage that keeps the game going.
Writer Karl Gajdusek (Dead Like Me) does rely on a few (flimsy) subplots and secondary relationships to complicate the bad guys’ plans – but none of them are too distracting or silly. What ultimately unfolds is a cat-and-mouse game in which loyalties are uncertain, leaving room for the feeling that the unpredictable could happen… which makes it even more disappointing that events ultimately play out in predictable fashion. For all the flack he’s received, Schumacher directs the film with a competent mind for space and pacing, and the Millers’ homes makes for a visually-striking piece of architecture that (suprisingly) never tires the eye.
Fans of “crazy Nic Cage” will delight in the fact that the actor goes over-the-top intense in this film; it’s a manic energy level to maintain, but Cage manages it. Nicole Kidman, on the other hand, is handed a role that felt rather unbalanced and uncertain. In one scene she’s a put-upon wife and doting mother; in other scenes she’s an expert seductress; in one bizarre scene with the lead crook played by Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom), she comes off as a hostage wholly taken by Stockholm syndrome. Kidman nails each scene she’s asked to, but on the whole her character never feels fully-formed or certain of itself. She is, instead, just another piece in the game – a description pretty much applicable to all the characters in this film. They’re thin, they’re one-note, and even when it seems like they might have some complexity, you’re reminded just as quickly that they don’t. They suffice to keep the plot moving along and that’s what they do – no more, no less.
Schumacher made solid B-movie material out of his 2002 single-setting thriller, Phone Booth, and with Trespass he once again milks a shallow premise for as much depth possible. Sure, it’s only as deep as a rainy-day B-movie can be – but, should you rent it on home video (or better yet, catch it on premium cable), Trespass wouldn’t be the worst way to spend an hour and a half. Is it worth the ticket price of a theater visit? Not unless you’re a die-hard Nic Cage or single-setting enthusiast who really enjoys the genre. All others need not enter.
Check out the trailer for Trespass:
Trespass is now available on DVD/Blu-ray – or you can rent it on Redbox by clicking HERE.