‘Accused’ Is An Intense And Important Reinvention Of The Home Invasion Thriller [Overlook Film Festival 2023 Review]

When crafted properly, there’s nothing quite as stressful as home invasion horror. The safety and comfort of our personal spaces are sacred, so there’s something extra unsettling about the integrity of these places becoming breached. Accused, from BAFTA-nominated director Philip Barantini (Boiling Point), takes the home invasion thriller and then subverts it with shocking and believable subtext that drastically heightens the stress factor.

In the film, a charming young man Harri (played by Chaneil Kular of Sex Education fame) spends a night alone at his parent’s English countryside estate. But when he’s misidentified online as the culprit behind a terrorist attack, he finds himself doxxed, located, and hunted by masked assailants. In an age of digital witch-hunts, bad information, and rampant prejudice, the ensuing game of violent cat and mouse is more than just intense. It’s believable.

Just a few months ago, Peacock unleashed Sick, Kevin Williamson’s socially-minded home invasion shocker, to phenomenal results. Accused uses a different politically charged rulebook to craft an even more important portrait of peril. While Sick took advantage of the COVID pandemic to socially isolated and murder its cast, Accused assigns the tension to another set of viciously relevant themes. Harri is targeted by racists who are fast to assume that his visual likeness to a potential bomber is enough of an excuse to hunt him down and murder him via livestream. It’s a fictional visualization of so much real-life violence that’s been spawned by hatred and prejudice.

While the promise of an action-packed third act is fulfilled, the most anxiety-inducing moment of Barantini’s masterful film is its collage of viral outrage. We sit with Harri in the calm of his parent’s home as he watches in horror as social media selects him to blame for a horrifying attack on the London subway system. As the hive mind snowballs and evolves from a digital threat into a physical one, the innocent young man bears witness in real time to his life falling apart. Strangers brazenly document breaking into his downtown flat and trashing all of his things before they begin to outwardly search for the address of his rural safe haven.

Once we reach the point of no return, it takes a good amount of time before Harri begins making good decisions. I don’t think this can be considered a fault of the writing, as I can’t really speak to the realism of a character’s choices under such extreme circumstances. I will say, however, that it’s frustrating to watch Harri make a series of baffling moves in his parent’s giant mansion. Why not hide? Or bolt into the woods? I suppose it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if Harri slid under a sofa until morning. But it would have suited him just fine.

The brilliance of Accused is its ability to showcase important political themes through a well-constructed, small-scale home invasion shocker. The subgenre is so rarely treated with this level of respect and ingenuity, making it a marvel to behold. The reality of a racist witchhunt doxxing the location of an innocent person is a believable and terrifying setup, and Kular’s desperate performance heightens the realism, even when Harri’s character choices are somewhat baffling.

  • Accused


In an age of digital witch-hunts, bad information, and rampant prejudice, the game of violent cat and mouse in ‘Accused’ is more than just intense. It’s believable.



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