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By Lorry Kikta | July 11, 2019

Mojave is a beautiful, if a relatively small, town in the deserts of Southern California. It is the setting of Orson Oblowitz’ rattling home-invasion thriller, Trespassers and is the perfect place for it. The home, which is used in the film as an Airbnb type of situation, is unbelievably gorgeous but in the middle of nowhere. 

Sarah (Angela Trimbur) and her husband Joseph (Zach Avery) are overdue for a getaway. They have recently experienced what is believed to be a miscarriage, and both of them feel a little off in their relationship. It would make sense for the two of them to go on this vacation by themselves, but for some reason, Sarah decided to invite her best friend, Estelle (Janel Parrish) and her boyfriend Victor (Jonathan Howard). Where Sarah and Joseph are a little more laid back, Estelle and Victor are always looking to party in every possible way, via dancing, drinking, drugs, whatever. It’s obvious that Joseph and Sarah are definitely vibrating on a lower frequency than their party animal friends. The mismatched energy leads to some awkwardness between the group. Especially since Sarah and Estelle haven’t seen each other for a long time, and unbeknownst to Sarah, Estelle, and Joseph share a not so wonderful secret. 

“…unbeknownst to Sarah, Estelle, and Joseph share a not so wonderful secret.”

The festivities are interrupted by the doorbell, which Victor emphatically says to not answer, but Sarah does it anyway. It’s a neighborhood woman whose car just broke down and needs to use the phone. The visitor (played by Fairuza Balk) seems fairly innocuous, a single mother who’s late to pick up her son from daycare. Victor doesn’t buy it. The visitor overstays her welcome a little bit by beginning to ask everyone questions that are too personal. Joseph also notices that the broken down car in question has disappeared from the side of the road while she’s been there. Things escalate when Victor starts to demand the visitor leave and a tragic incident knocks the narrative into a hypertensive free-for-all from there on out.  There’s a crooked police officer, Sergeant Daniels (Carlo Rota) who shows up to Sarah’s police call, but this doesn’t fix the situation at all. In fact, he is flanked by some crazy guys with masks who have no other purpose than to wreak havoc on whoever is in their path. 

“…flipped the typical bad-guy-in-the-house narrative on its head into something much more compelling and original.”

Trespassers has a really cool atmosphere. The setting is incredibly modern, but the special effects and gore are a product of the ’70s and 80’s horror which call to mind some classic home invasion films such as When A Stranger Calls or The House On The Edge Of The Park. The interesting thing about Trespassers that makes it different from a film such as Funny Games, for example, is that the focal point of the dialogue is all about the interpersonal relationships of the victims, rather than too much of a focus on the perpetrators. It should be memorable for fans of thrillers, especially for those of the home invasion variety. Also for lovers of interpersonal dramas, the category I definitely fall into. The film is just another win for IFC Midnight, who have some of the smartest people in their acquisitions department because all the films they’ve released over the past two years or more have all been high-quality and they’re all different from each other. They give the competition something to aspire to as do Orson Oblowitz and writer Corey Deshon, who flipped the typical bad-guy-in-the-house narrative on its head into something much more compelling and original. 

Trespassers (2019) Written by Corey Deshon. Directed by Orson Oblowitz. Starring Angela Trimbur, Zach Avery, Janel Parrish, Jonathan Howard, Fairuza Balk, Carlo Rota, Sebastian Sozzi, Joey Abril.

7 out of 10 stars 

Listen to Trespassers’ actress Janel Parrish talk about the film on the Film Threat Podcast.

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