Trespass (2011)

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Trespass ReviewStarring Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman, Ben Mendelsohn, Cam Gigandet, Liana Liberato

Directed by Joel Schumacher

What’s in a home invasion movie? Generally speaking, it’s a subgenre that should be rife with tension and suspense, yes? The very idea of hostile strangers invading your most intimate surroundings is a fairly popular one as films like The Strangers, Hostage, Kidnapped and Funny Games have recently shown. Naturally, it taps into a pretty basic fear: What would you do if people broke into your home and wanted to hurt the ones you love? Would you be complacent? Too terrified to react? Unleash your surprising inner savagery to defend your turf? What shocks most in Joel Schumacher’s Trespass isn’t what happens throughout, it’s that it’s a resounding bore all the way.

It’s a thriller where nothing thrills. There’s no escalating sense of suspense, and tension is lacking from the get-go. Instead it’s a one-note bore that never escalates, never tightens and certainly almost never entertains. In the director’s chair, Joel Schumacher seems incapable of making any of this seem scary. Our resident thugs brandish guns, bark orders and pace hurriedly back and forth. Sure, they occasionally grab one of our two stars and make some really idle threats through mashed teeth to indicate they’re really serious, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Instead these moments play out again and again over an interminable 85 minutes. In Trespass the cards are sprawled out on the table from the very beginning, and as such, it has no where to go.

That’s because it puts too much faith in “Dead Like Me” scribe Karl Gajdusek’s story. A screenplay that thinks it has some real surprises in store for an audience, when the reality offers nothing at all. It spends the majority of the film making us think that Nicole Kidman’s character is involved in an affair with one of the robbers (the awful Cam Gigandet), making her an unsympathetic heroine for the duration. It doesn’t turn out to be true, however, with the reason behind the misdirection being even dumber and more obvious. The script plays around with everyone like this, indicating that each character has something to hide, and attempts to pass off these “revelations” as third-act shockers. When the most surprising one is, ”Hey, I got fired a few months ago,” there’s a real problem here.

TrespassJust about the only reason to slog through this disaster is for an amazingly bizarre acting turn from Nicolas Cage. His nasally performance is an odd mixture of restraint and frenzy. Nouveau shamanic rears its head in a few choice moments where Cage verbally assaults the attackers in a profane-laden diatribe, screaming out ”you fuck shits!” and similar gems at the top of his lungs. And later his rejection of wife Nicole Kidman’s apology yields the following: ”I’m a cuckold. Your filthy lust invited this.” This stuff would’ve worked better had Cage been the focus, but he feels like an afterthought in a climax that gives everyone more to do than him. So much so that he disappears for what feels like long chunks of time. Big mistake.

Speaking of big mistakes…Nicole Kidman opted to follow up one of the greatest performances of her career (the brilliant Rabbit Hole) with this. Hers is easily the best performance of the bunch, navigating banal dialogue and pathetic “surprises” as if this were a much better film. I’ve been a Kidman fan for as long as I’ve loved movies, and I’ll watch anything she does. But she can’t save this material or even elevate it. Instead it’s hard not to feel embarrassed for the only person who brought their ‘A’ game to this tripe.

Trespass doesn’t work at all. Best thing Schumacher could’ve done was load his climax with gruesome violence as an apology for the stagnant proceedings. But it takes forever for the family to fight back, and when they do, it’s as unsatisfying as everything else. That the thieves are mostly destroyed by lame in-fighting is the final straw. By the time we get around to Cage taking a nail gun to his attacker, it’s too little too late. It’s where things should’ve kicked into high gear; instead it’s a missed opportunity. Just like everything else in this Trespass.

1 out of 5

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Matt Serafini

Author (Under the Blade, Feral), slasher movie enthusiast, N7 Operative. Plays games, watches movies, reads books. Occasionally writes about them.