Directed by Julius Berg
Written by Julius Berg, Matthieu Gompel
Starring Maisie Williams, Sylvester McCoy, Jake Curran
These days, it would almost be unexpected for a home invasion horror premise to actually not have a twist, but the sub-genre has its own offshoot now. Interestingly, the UK hasn’t gotten in on the fun very often but England does have, arguably, the most famous home invasion sequence ever put to celluloid in the form of Stanley Kubrick’s shockingly perverse robbery/rape choreography in A Clockwork Orange. But that scene is anything but fun, unless you’re a member of the droogs.
The heist-gone-wrong scenario involving a gang of youths getting more than they bargained for seems to be the new go-to for home invasion, and Julius Berg’s The Owners starring Maisie Williams (what TV show was she on again?) is cut from the same cloth as Don’t Breathe from South American director Fede Álvarez. Maybe it makes sense that Berg was born in Paris since the French are partly responsible for turning the home invasion trope on its head with new classics like Alexandre Aja’s Haute Tension and the still devastating one-two punch blow of Inside and Martyrs.
The Owners is never too bloody, relying more on a gang of idiots that wind up in a warped reality where the invaders become strange houseguests of sorts. Luckily, one of the amateur burglars is dating the whip smart Mary (Williams), a no nonsense bird from Bristol, who may be their only hope to escape an elderly doctor (McCoy) and his wife after they return home early and begin to easily manipulate the bumbling intruders. Advancing in years, the unassuming elderly couple use age to their advantage, providing a strange comfort to these kids that have most likely come from broken homes and scarce dinner tables.
Emphasizing the “hug” in his character’s name Doctor Huggins, Sylvester McCoy toys with all four kids in the same playful way his portrayal of Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit bantered with Gandalf the Grey. McCoy is quite lovable and seemingly trustworthy enough that even the mad glare of Arya Stark still gleaming in the eyes of Maisie Williams takes a slight respite when Mary believes that the Doctor really did call for help to get her injured beau Gaz (Curran) to hospital. Still, it should always be a good rule of thumb to always be suspicious of a white coat septuagenarian with an operating table in his living room. Eek!
If, for some reason, you were actually planning to see yet another X-Men film just to see Williams as Wolfsbane, she’s just as ferocious in The Owners and gives a better performance. It’s undeniably cool to see the young, now forever iconic actress kick ass in a real world setting, free of George R.R. Martin and the two Daves (Benioff and Weiss, respectively) and comic book mutant buffoonery. She’s the brains of the operation and the mystery eventually unlocked within the Huggins labyrinthine cottage is a curtain reveal that her fans should relish.
There’s a larger story to unlock within the vault of this ageist British home invasion thriller that turns a thwarted heist into a mysterious charade between a gang of miscreants and their supposed captives.