Trespass (2011)

(Video-on-Demand, December 2011) Once upon a time, maybe in the mid-nineties, a thriller directed by Joel Schumacher and featuring both Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman would have been a sure-fire box-office draw.  But this is late 2011 and the most noteworthy thing about Trespass is how a very limited theatrical run was followed barely two weeks later by a wide DVD release.  So does the film best compare to theatrical thrillers or direct-to-video efforts?  From a visual perspective, it’s clear that this is an A-list effort: Shumacher’s direction is effective, the cinematography is striking and even as the film focuses on house-bound action from dusk till dawn, the filmmakers are able to get a lot of visual energy from limited locations.  Much of Trespass, in fact, feels like a theatre production as a well-off family is threatened by a small gang of home invaders.  But the criminals aren’t united, and everyone has secrets to hide: by the film’s twentieth-minute mark, they’re already shouting at each other in trying to figure out what’s happening.  Nearly hidden behind over-sized glasses, Cage gets a typical “Cage flip-out moment” early on by trying to negotiate with people who aren’t expecting negotiations.  The intensity of the psychological drama can’t be sustained over 90- minutes: by the third act, the action diffuses itself back to B-grade movie levels by going out of the house and a few repeated plot beats while we’re waiting for the various elements previously set up to be used in rapid succession.  Once the shouting is over, it’s a bit easier to see the generic nature of the plot and the plot cheats used to constrain it.  Still, Trespass is a clear notch above much of what’s meant to go quickly from theatres to video –more of a comment on the changing video landscape in the age of instant home video consumption than a particular reflection on the film itself.  If nothing else, it’s an average thriller made by above-average filmmakers and stars.

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