There’s an adequately scattered trail of breadcrumbs running throughout the brisk Netflix thriller Intrusion that starts us off in one subgenre before leading us somewhere entirely different. It’s not that either place is particularly original or that the reveal is all that revealing (your overall enjoyment will depend on how much deja vu you’re able to stomach in one sitting) but there’s simple, low-stakes fun to be had along the way, a passable Friday night potboiler that will boil away to nothing as soon as the credits come into view.
That seems to be just about enough for most who log on to Netflix these days, searching for something to idly double-screen, and the streamer’s much-ballyhooed year of original films (one a week!) has so far brought us some slightly above average TV movies with stars you vaguely know doing things you’ve vaguely seen before. That’s exactly what we have with Intrusion, as Freida Pinto (ええと, from Slumdog Millionaire) and Logan Marshall-Green (ええと, from Prometheus) star as a reliable thriller staple: the handsome heterosexual couple who have the perfect home, 仕事, relationship and skin. Meera and Henry have moved to a small town into an extravagant modern house that he himself designed but is their presence unsettling the locals? Is that why one night, they arrive home to find that someone has broken in?
Initially, it’s just a robbery but the next time, it’s something far worse and the couple find themselves fighting for their lives against a group of masked invaders. Henry manages to gain control and shoots them but they’re then faced with the murky aftermath and a story that doesn’t add up.
Post-2008’s insidiously potent The Strangers, home invasion thrillers have been swiftly piling up, a cheap, simple subgenre that appeals to our base fear of feeling unsafe in the one place we should feel safest. What’s interesting about Intrusion is that the home invasion is only the beginning and writer Chris Sparling (whose genre credits go high – Buried – and mostly low – Lakewood, ATM) looks at what happens when the pieces are then picked up and sifted through. Meera’s sifting is the most entertaining element of the film, as we play detective along with her, rifling through drawers, utilising tech and, as the tagline suggests, asking questions she perhaps doesn’t want answered. Where Meera ends up is no great surprise (I called it in the trailer and then confirmed it in my head within the first 15 分, no medal thanks) but it’s a twist that takes the film to an appealingly nasty place, edging from thriller to horror with an effectively gnarly finale.
It’s propulsive enough to work in the moment although our investment teeters thanks to a vacant central performance from a lethargic Pinto, an actor who often struggles to connect with her material and then, in turn, her audience. It’s a shame as the character’s swift, gruelling descent from having to losing it all could have allowed another actor to add some emotional heft to an otherwise mechanical story. Marshall-Green is a more confident presence but there’s a distinct lack of chemistry between the pair and so again, we’re kept surface-level throughout. Like most of Netflix’s output, it’s plagued by that all-too-familiar visual flatness (it’s not a movie, it’s a Netflix movie) so while the house and its occupants possess an otherworldly beauty, the film surrounding them is predictably pedestrian-looking, director Adam Salky failing to deviate from the dog-eared Netflix playbook.
As yet more content, it’s an agreeable option, the simple A-to-B-to-C plot proving involving enough for us to not exactly care what happens but at least see how unpleasant it all gets. The streak of perversity at Intrusion’s centre nudges it above the norm, briefly waking us up before we sleepily click on something else.