Intrusion  Review – A Stomach-churning Thriller That Critiques Male Ego
Just when the pandemic began, one of the many knee-jerk reactions to coping with this sudden sensation of isolation was to watch movies about isolation, preferably set in one location. And what better sub-genre is there to satisfy that particular itch other than stories about home invasions? But then as the attachment with one’s own home started to get stronger as the lock-down(s) began to get longer, people started to shift away from such narratives. In fact, they started gravitating towards films that provided a surge of escapism powerful enough to make them forget that they’ve started to hate their family members. Because nobody was used to living in such close proximity for such prolonged periods of time. Now, in most countries, that phase is still going on, and if you are not over it, then strap in for Intrusion (2021).
The Adam Salky directorial follows Henry (Logan Marshall-Green) and Meera (Freida Pinto), a couple who have been together for twelve years, as they are settling in their new home in Corrales, New Mexico. It’s suggested that they used to live in Boston and that Meera is a breast cancer survivor. Of course, things go sideways when their home is broken into not once, but twice, with the second one ending in the death of the burglars. And while Meera is rattled by the fact that their house was broken into, something about Henry’s demeanor starts eating away at her, thereby sending her into a downward spiral filled with doubt and fear.
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Intrusion seems like a very simple movie with very basic camera choices, cuts, and performances. But when you pull back just a little, you will notice so much going on underneath the surface. For example, when Henry and Meera go on the first date, they leave their phones behind, which seems like an experimental thing that they are doing to strengthen their bond. When the Sheriff investigating the break-in asks why they didn’t take their cellphones with them, Henry admits that he used to be a little too phone-obsessed. Which, again, seems like a minor thing. However, as things escalate and tracking apps, data protection, and more tech-related aspects come into the picture, you begin to realize that they were helicopter relationship-ing it when they were in Boston. Think helicopter parenting, but with couples keeping track of each other’s every movement. The mistrust was always there. The home invasion just gave it a new life.
Coming to the house built by Henry, it is a symbol of the blatant class divide going on in the country. If it isn’t clear by just looking at it, Intrusion’s editor Ben Baudhuin cuts between shots of the barren landscape, the slums, and then this life-less, almost monolithic house to make sure that the audience gets the message. But if you listen to how Henry frames the ownership of the house or his need to do a housewarming party (translation: show it off to people) or after a particular damning revelation, how he tries to guilt-trip Meera into being thankful that the house exists, you’ll notice what it also stands for. It’s his medal for doing the bare minimum. It isn’t enough for him that he and his wife made it through an unprecedented tough time. He needs something tangible to remind him of that. Something that will stroke his god-tier ego. However, a few shot-reverse-shots of the light in Henry’s office and Henry also shows us that no level of grandiosity will ever be able to counter a man’s insecurity.
All that said, there are three components that work in tandem to low-key derail Intrusion. And please be mindful of the fact that this is not particularly a swipe at the movie. Well, at least two of them aren’t. Firstly, The pacing is quite swift. Now, that might be a plus point for many, and the existence of Netflix’s playback speed controls is indicative of that. But, as mentioned before, since a lot of director Salky and writer Chris Sparling’s messaging is quite subtle (which is again, a good thing!), there’s a fair chance that viewers might miss a lot of it. There’s one (spoiler-y) moment in particular where a character completely misreads a piece of key information, which is called out later on. However, it all happens so quickly that you might not even realize what was established and how it has been subverted.
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The second thing is predictability, which depends on the first point. If you are perceptive, you might catch the biggest twist at around the 52-minute mark. If you aren’t, good for you. You are safe and the absolute stomach-churner of a surprise will leave your jaw on the floor. But if you have already figured it all out so early on in the film, should you switch it off and walk away? Yes and no. You can walk away if you are not invested in the movie and you don’t care how brutally that twist will impact the lives of Meera and Henry. If you have even an ounce of empathy for them though and if you appreciate Logan and Freida’s spectacular performances even a bit, the rest of the 40 minutes of the movie is definitely worth sitting through. Because that ending is cathartic as hell.
The third point is Alex Heffes’s score. Unfortunately, it seems like he, as kids like to say nowadays, didn’t understand the assignment. Because it rarely matches the horror of what’s happening on-screen. It feels way too generic and often undercuts the subtlety of Salky’s direction with electronic beats that are synonymous with action movies. And not even good action movies. But like the ones that Bruce Willis is doing nowadays. The score needed to induce dread and reflect the barrenness and hopelessness of the location on which the movie is taking place. However, it is too mechanical and disconnected from any of the themes or messages that Intrusion is trying to convey.
All that said, Intrusion is a movie that will leave you thinking about its character’s motivations and future even after the credits have stopped rolling. Salky and Sparling’s exploration of the male ego is interesting. On a technical level, the movie features some great cinematography, editing, production design, set design, and sound design. And all that is undoubtedly tied together with a bow on top via Logan Marshall-Green and Freida Pinto’s committed performances. Given the circumstances, with most of us stuck in our houses and whatnot, it won’t be an easy watch and you might end up putting more locks on your doors and start keeping tabs on your loved ones. But if you feel that you cannot be shaken or stirred that easily, then do give it a watch.