Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 3, 2012)
When a movie that features a big-name actor goes straight to video, I’m always a little surprised, but it happens enough that it doesn’t shock me. However, when a project that involves two major stars follows this path, I’m really surprised.
Today’s example of this unusual phenomenon: 2011’s Trespass. A look at IMDB reveals that the film did get a minor theatrical run, but since it never appeared on more than 10 screens and made a miniscule $16,000, I think it can be accepted as a direct-to-video project.
Why? I have no idea. Not only does it star Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage, but also it comes from one-time big-name director Joel Schumacher. He seems to be turning into the king of the direct-to-video flick these days, as none of Schumacher’s last three movies received significant theatrical exhibition.
However, the last two – 2009’s Blood Creek and 2010’s Twelve - didn’t star super-famous Oscar-winning actors, so I could understand their lower profiles. I can’t figure out what kept Trespass from the screens – unless someone thought it stunk so bad that it would be a financial negative to throw it to the multiplex wolves.
So consider my curiosity piqued! Trespass introduces us to high-end jeweler Kyle Miller (Cage), wife Sarah (Kidman) and teen daughter Avery (Liana Liberato). A group of crooks disguised as cops invade their home and demand that Kyle hand over the contents of their safe. He refuses – and all hell breaks loose.
While the “home invasion” genre isn’t exactly new and fresh, that doesn’t mean it can’t provide excitement. And we do get the occasional thrill from Trespass, though these dissipate before long, as the film quickly turns into a morass of idiocy and plot twists.
Oh, all those plot twists – each one twistier than the last! During the first act, we can swallow the improbable story points; sure, they don’t seem to make a lot of sense, but heck, they’re kind of fun.
For a while, and then the viewer seems likely to shout “enough already!” and toss a boot at the screen. Not that much about the movie makes a ton of sense from the start. A discussion of all these ups and downs would inevitably involve spoilers, so I’ll skip that section. Suffice it to say that not much about the story makes sense, and you’ll find more dumb behavior on display than you could possibly imagine would be packed into one 90-minute movie.
The main problem stems from the general nature of the plot, and that’s an issue with most “home invasion” flicks. When you send criminals into someone’s house and have the inhabitants threatened with death/pain if they don’t hand over the goods, you need to find creative ways to sustain the tension. After all, a movie like this logically should end about three minutes after the crooks arrive on the scene: either the baddies get their loot or they kill the residents.
Since few people want to pay to see a 15-minute movie – as we’ll allow for 12 minutes of pre-invasion exposition – the filmmakers must come up with twists to extend the action. In pretty good flicks like Panic Room or Hostage, the script delivers a good array of to maintain our interest. Some of these may stretch credulity, but they don’t throw all logic over the cliff.
Unfortunately, Trespass locks logic into a little hut and then blows the crap out of it. With every passing minute, the movie makes less sense and it becomes clearer that all those twisty twists exist solely because no one involved knows how to create a more believable thriller.
So that means we end up with one in which almost every minute comes packed with shouting and/or crying and every genre cliché gets its screen time. The movie remains reasonably interesting for a while, and I admit that a couple of the twists are pretty good, but the end product seems too idiotic and overwrought to keep us involved.