Windfall, the newest Netflix film by director Charlie McDowell is a sharp dark comedy about a home invasion gone wrong. Starring Jason Segel, Lily Collins, and Jesse Plemons; whose characters remain unnamed for the entirety of the narrative, Windfall takes place entirely in and around the Plemons’ (who plays a tech billionaire) vacation home.
Segel plays the casual intruder who was chilling in the home before he could burglarize the place and run away, only to be cut short by the sudden arrival of the couple. McDowell’s film is steeped in old-school Hitchcok vibes. Not that it’s entirely relying on the mystery of what-ifs, but there’s a definite throwback to the master’s work, especially seen through the excellent Danny Bensi score.
Anyhow, what kicks off as a home invasion, transforms into passive-aggressive behavior, intruder’s motives gone wrong, and a whole lot of twisted look at a toxic relationship that is more of a control game than anything else. Moreover, it is also about the people who have things and those who don’t and are stuck in a loop of following the crowd. In some ways, there’s a dig on the class divide, people who own everything and treat others like scum.
So, if you do end up liking the black comedic narrative of Netflix’s Windfall, I have some movies that will serve as a perfect after watch or double-bill:
1. Rope (1948)
Rope is like a play where the apartment sets up the stage for a showdown. However, the mystery is laid bare in front of the audience from the start, and it remains in hindsight till things fade to black. However, with each interaction and each instance, the culprits get nearer to being caught, or to put it mildly, ‘being amused.’
Like Windfall, Rope is the kind of movie that serves more as a satire on privilege than anything else. The fact that the CEO (played by Plemons), is constantly being passive-aggressive on being caught (similar to Philip in Rope), instead of listening to people around him, doesn’t just uncover a thick layer of arrogance, but the behavioral signs that some people just don’t know what to do with themselves when they have a lot of money at hand.
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2. Bone (1972)
In many of the things that Windfall eventually uncovers, it can be seen as a narrative that looks at people stuck in things that they don’t like. The Wife (played by Lily Collins) in the Netflix movie relates to the situation in which Nobody (Segel) finds himself in. She has been in his place and her change in privilege is both triggered and hit on by the CEO’s remarks.
Much like Windfall, Bone is one of those funny home-invasion movies that cleverly subverts the expectations of the genre to uncover the facade that lies beneath the glitz. Larry Cohen’s 1972 movie is about a Beverly Hill criminal who breaks into a rich home, only to witness a bigger conflict at hand than escaping the place.
3. The Ref (1994)
Now The Ref, directed by Ted Demme isn’t entirely a home-invasion movie starring a thief and a couple, but there’s a home invasion, a thief and a couple involved so let’s keep it here. Starring Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey as the couple, the bumbling, bickering comedy kicks off when a cat burglar has to get into their car mid-argument when one of his break-ins goes wrong.
Much like Windfall, The Ref is a movie about a thief who finds himself in the midst of a crumbling marriage, becoming more of a referee than anything else. While more comedic in tone and feeling than Windfall, the movie feels like a good inclusion in this list just for the similarity in the proceedings.
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4. Funny Games (1997)
It’s never a bad thing to recommend some Haneke to people who have still not witnessed his cruel gaze. So, when it comes to unconventional home invasion movies, a list is not complete without at least mentioning Funny Games. Michael Haneke’s 1997 original (it was later remade into English with the same title in 2007), is a film that takes place in a vacation home. A couple is involved and things go south when two normal-looking young men decide to intrude.
Way more brutal and violent when compared to Netflix’s Windfall, Funny Games is one of those movies that uses a meta-structure to come to beguiling results. It is a film that not only takes a dig at the rich but also criticizes the audiences who witness it without having the urge to turn it off.
Watch Funny Games on HBOMax
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5. Villains (2019)
Black Comedy that has amateur intruders get into a battle with the homeowners? Sign me up! Villians, directed by director duo of Dan Berk and Robert Olsen stars Bill Skarsgård and Maika Monroe as a couple of robbers who storm into the house owned by George and Georgia (played by Jeffery Donovan & Kyra Sedgwick respectively), only to have everything gets extremely messed up for them.
Villains is one of those home-invasion movies that know exactly how to counter the expectations set by the audience. It is a funny and entertaining thrill ride, which, much like Windfall, makes you constantly question who you hate more, and whose side you want to be.
Watch Villains on HULU
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6. Parasite (2019)
Now Parasite is a movie that completely dislodged the home-invasion scenario in its second act. So much so that you can’t really call it a home-invasion movie in the first place. However, much like Windfall, Parasite is a movie about class. It is about those at the top, and those at the bottom, and the constant urge by the ones at the bottom, to relish and get a piece of the cake.
Winner of The Best Picture award at the Oscars, Parasite is also a film where a home invasion goes absolutely berserk. And while Windfall is more reliant on its character interaction than plot twists, there’s a similarity in its true representation of the rich undervaluing what the poorer people have to go through on a regular basis.
Watch Parasite on HULU
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7. The Rental (2020)
Big Vacation homes and couples trying to have a good time, only to get involved in a web of whataboutery is nothing new to cinema. So, actor Dave Franco’s directorial debut that stars wife Alison Brie along with Dan Stevens, Sheila Vand, and Jeremy Allen White is a familiar tale of a vacation gone wrong.
However, its conflict arises from within before outside intrusion takes place. Windfall works on similar lines as the burglar is not the main threat at the center of the narrative. The toxic faux relationship between the couple and how one of them is withstanding everything thrown at them before having enough is one of the main themes that put both the movies in similar territory.