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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

[Review] ‘The Owners’ Puts Bizarre Spin on Home Invasion Thriller

Of all the subgenres of horror, home invasion thrillers tend to rank among the highest on the fear scale because they hit too close to reality for comfort. The odds of a robber breaking into your home is a lot higher than, say, encountering a rampaging werewolf. Because the genre has long since capitalized on this fear, fans have grown somewhat desensitized to home invasion thrillers. While the invasion of one’s home remains a prevalent anxiety in modern society, it’s still hard to get excited about a well-worn concept if it doesn’t offer any new angle or subversion. While The Owners doesn’t attempt to break the mold, it instead opts for a peculiar brand of insanity to complement the violence.

Based on the graphic novel Une Nuit de Pleine lune by Hermann and Yves H., The Owners opens with a trio of unsavory characters sitting in a trash-filled car, scoping out a large estate in a countryside. As soon as the owners leave, they break in, ransack the place but come up empty. Mary (Maisie Williams), a girlfriend hoping to get her car back to head into work, is an unintentional accomplice. Her boyfriend and his friends opt to wait inside for the owners to come home. They find out that they picked the wrong people to mess with. Naturally, it escalates into a night of violence no one saw coming.

The comparisons to Don’t Breathe will be inevitable; a plot of unlikable characters breaking into the home of unassuming, elderly homeowners seems eerily similar, after all. Beyond that, The Owners takes a very different approach. The film never bothers any attempt to provide rooting interest for any of its characters. Mary’s boyfriend, Nathan (Ian Kenny), barely shows the smallest glimpses of humanity among a string of terrible, mean-spirited decisions. His pal Terry (Andrew Ellis) shows reticence at causing harm, but it’s overshadowed by his man-baby persona and creepy obsession with Mary. The worst among them is thug Gaz (Jake Curran), a nasty human through and through. Mary’s by far the most likable of the group, but even she is prone to making reprehensible choices. This is the type of thriller that decides to wedge in unnecessary character devices like a pregnancy to engender audience sympathy. In other words, there’s no redemption in any of our leads, making it difficult to invest in what happens to them.

Luckily, director/writer Julius Berg and his co-writer Mathieu Gompel offer some reprieve in the form of brutal violence and a pair of eccentric homeowners. Sylvester McCoy’s Dr. Huggins is a scene-chewing foil who’s making the most of a dour story. Wife Ellen Huggins (Rita Tushingham) might be even loonier than her counterpart, injecting welcome manic energy and unpredictability to how this night plays out. There’s torture and death aplenty, and it’s delightfully gory. If anything upstages McCoy’s bonkers portrayal of an equally bonkers character, it’s Scarlett O’Connell’s (The Girl with All the Gifts) makeup design. It’s so good you wish there were more heinous characters injected into the mix, simply so you could watch them die in gruesome ways, too.

Berg does an excellent job highlighting the kills and moments of excruciating mayhem, but beyond that, The Owners is a fairly standard thriller without any frills. That is, save for a third act aspect ratio change that ultimately adds nothing to the conversation. Then again, The Owners doesn’t have much to say in the first place.

The Owners offers a solid enough entry in home invasion thrillers, one in which there are no heroes. Other than its bizarre brand of weird, there’s not much else that’s unique about this entry of the subgenre. That means it might entertain for a while if you can look past grating protagonists, but it won’t stay with you after the credits roll.  

The Owners releases in theaters and VOD on September 4, 2020.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3630052/review-owners-gives-bizarre-spin-home-invasion-thriller/

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