Trespassers (2019) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Trespassers (2019) Review

Horrorific content by Jessica Gomez on July 17th, 2020 | Movie Review | Home Invasion, Survival, Psychological, Thriller

A desert getaway turns into the vacation from hell.

Trespassers was directed by Orson Oblowitz and stars Angela Trimbur (from XX and Halloween 2), Janel Parrish, Zach Avery and Jonathan Howard.

Hell Is Where the Home Is

Two bored, rich couples seeking a thrill from their lives take to a luxurious rental in the Mojave desert for a debaucherous adult vacation. Victor and Estelle are notably more wild than Sarah and Joseph, indulging in an endless parade of drinks and cocaine - though it isn’t long before we see that Joe is yearning for a different life, and Victor is abusive towards Estelle. When Sarah attempts to let loose, a former trauma rears its ugly head, and the distance between the couple becomes palpable. Fractures within each of their relationships are exposed as tension becomes thicker and thicker, leaving it harder for them to handle what’s to come.

In the opening scene, we are given a glimpse into what’s in store when we see what really happened to the owners of the rental home - a gang of masked men, presumably part of a Mexican cartel, brutally kill the couple as they ask in Spanish, “Where is it!?” It is only days later that the vacationers arrive, and unfortunately for them, the men have unfinished business with the property.

Reminiscent of creepy visitors we’ve seen in many horror movies, such as The Strangers and The Gift, a strange woman (Fairuza Balk) arrives at the door claiming to be a neighbor in need of help with her car, and after allowing her to linger a little too long, an unfortunate turn of events leads to a complete breakdown within the already-strained group. When the masked intruders finally arrive, they’re adding to an already long list of things that have gone wrong. One unexpected occurrence after another keeps you on the edge of your seat, and you’re never sure of anyone’s motivations, which keeps the story compelling, even if by the end you’re expecting the unexpected. 

I’ve been a fan of Angela Trimbur since The Final Girls, and she showed the depth of her range here. Janel Parrish (of Pretty Little Liars, an underrated teen horror show) had a few realistically excruciating scenes, and her performance brought it home. Fairuza Balk is perfectly cast as a harmless-looking yet seemingly untrustworthy stranger. The performances from the women truly outshone the men, all of whose executions were mostly fine but at times less believable.

The plot does lack originality, and we get just a glimpse into the relationships and personalities of the main characters. But the cinematography, utilizing unconventional lighting, paid homage to thrillers of the 70s and 80s with clear inspiration from The Neon Demon. And for all of its darkness and uncomfortability, Trespassers is gory without being gross, and distressing without becoming unwatchable.

If you’re someone who needs your questions answered, I’ll be frank - the information you’ll seek is scarce. It’s hard to decipher whether more backstory or more sophisticated dialogue would have made the film better, or if it’s better to leave some of it to mystery.

Worth Watching?

Yes - for every familiar horror trope, there’s a twist to a scene that you aren’t expecting, and the tension never ceases in this thriller. If you're into stylish indie home invasions, Trespassers is a film that will keep you guessing as much as it will make your stomach churn.

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