There’s a certain method or modus operandi for how I review films on Readers Digested that has developed over the last half-decade or so I’ve written them. I sometimes look at what I’d written in the early-going and wonder where that surplus of enthusiasm and curiosity went. I’d review every horror film known to man, whether it was generally disliked or considered downright blasphemous to genre junkies.
Nowadays, I don’t know if it’s because I am older and busier in my adult-life but I can’t muscle my way through a shoestring budget film with amateur actors. Maybe it’s because I feel I’ve circled back on nearly everything I’ve wanted to see and now I’m combing through to make certain nothing has fallen through the cracks.
If I think a film will be bad, I ignore it, unless it’s something I’m interested in or can justify in some respect. I’ll review The Curse of Llorona despite my low expectations because it’s relevant and timely but I’m not as likely to review a Bollywood slasher knock-off. The slasher or home-invasion genre always has my attention in spite of itself. I watch them and thereby (usually) review them, regardless of my expectation. They are my cinematic comfort food. Some of them even surprise you, becoming superb horror fare or great films in-general.
I didn’t watch Trespassers because I expected that though. Trespassers follows two dysfunctional couples who rent a luxury desert home hoping to have a fun night of sex and drug-fueled escape. Everything takes a dark shift when a neighbor shows up, complaining about car trouble and asking for their help. As you can expect, everything takes a turn for the worse in this Orson Oblowitz directed film. The film was written by Corey Deshon and stars Angela Trimbur, Janel Parrish, Jonathan Howard, and Deshon.
The camerawork is neat-and-tidy, which is always appreciated. I didn’t mention shoestring budgets earlier as a foreshadowing on what I thought of the film itself. At first, something I didn’t think it’d have a lot of was identity or distinction, the type of camerawork meant as a lens to stand there and document what’s happening, and not meant to do a lot else other than that. Fortunately, it has a thematic change in lighting later when the action starts-up, mixing around blues and purples for a sort-of neon-lighting aesthetic.
Likewise, the score comes to compliment the color-pallet, coming together to create a flickering light, disco-lit mayhem on the screen. This is actually my favorite part of the film. I especially liked the way the fast-tempo music would stop in the middle of a chase when the attack is off-screen, and start-up again when they returned on the attack.
The story offers an initial twist from the establish formula that I hadn’t expected, but that initial jolt dissipates fast, bogged down by a quarrels between its cast. The acting is usually competent, but it isn’t without the occasional ham-fist delivery, especially from the dramatic moments that arise from that initial twist.
The antagonists feel thrown together and underdeveloped and I think the characters as a whole feel mostly under-cooked. The baddies were penalized by how little time was invested into them, whether it be in establishing them as a threat, identifying who they were, or dignifying their agenda. Meanwhile, our main-protagonists found detriment in merely how much was introduced about them with no real resolution. Humans are complicated and life doesn’t usually play out in a satisfying way, but for a film like this and how it was presented, it makes the film feel more frivolous than layered.
Trespassers might be considered as a slight win. It all depends on what your expectations are, really. It is by no means the worst slasher film I’ve ever seen, but, at the same time, it is by no means the best slasher film I’ve ever seen. The story-line doesn’t do anything to reinvent the wheel and the action, while elevated by the cosmetic choices, is nothing I’ll be talking about in months to come, and, in-fact, I’ve more-or-less forgotten most of it in the time it has taken to collect my thoughts on the film. Still, it doesn’t overstay its welcome and it doesn’t make any really bad decisions. It is an average film, at best, but is on-par with films like The Strangers: Prey at Night as a satiable helping of the macabre.