Throughout the quick Netflix thriller Intrusion, there’s a well-scattered trail of breadcrumbs that takes us from one subgenre to another. It’s not that either location is particularly unique or that the reveal is particularly shocking (your overall enjoyment will be determined by how much déjà vu you can stomach in one sitting), but there’s simple, low-stakes entertainment to be had along the way, a passable Friday night potboiler that will boil away to nothing as soon as the credits roll.

Most people who log on to Netflix these days, looking for something to idly double-screen, seem to be satisfied with that, and the streamer’s much-ballyhooed year of original films (one a week!) has so far delivered some slightly above-average TV movies with stars you vaguely recognize doing things you vaguely remember. That’s precisely what we get in Intrusion, which stars Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) and Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus) as a dependable thriller staple: the attractive heterosexual couple with the ideal house, career, relationship, and skin.

Meera and Henry have relocated to a tiny village and are living in an opulent contemporary home that he built, but are the locals disturbed by their presence? Is that why they come home one night to discover that someone has broken in?

It starts off as a simple heist, but it quickly escalates into something much more dangerous, and the couple finds themselves battling for their life against a gang of masked intruders. Henry eventually gains control and shoots them, but they are left with a tangled mess and a narrative that doesn’t make up.

Home invasion thrillers have been rapidly stacking up since 2008’s insidiously powerful The Strangers, a cheap, basic subgenre that plays to our fundamental dread of feeling unsafe in the one place we should feel safest. The house invasion is just the beginning in Intrusion, as writer Chris Sparling (whose genre credentials include Buried and mainly low – Lakewood, ATM) examines what occurs after the debris are picked up and combed through. Meera’s sifting is the most enjoyable aspect of the picture, as we play detective with her, rummaging through drawers, using technology, and, as the slogan implies, asking questions she may or may not want answered.

It’s a twist that takes the film to an appealingly nasty place, edging from thriller to horror with an effectively gnarly finale (I predicted it in the trailer and then confirmed it in my head within the first 15 minutes, no medal thanks), but it’s a twist that takes the film to an appealingly nasty place, edging from thriller to horror with an effective gnarly finale.

It’s engrossing enough to hold our attention in the moment, but our commitment is jeopardized by a stale core performance from a sluggish Pinto, an actress who often fails to connect with her material and, as a result, with her audience. It’s a pity, since another actor might have added some emotional weight to an otherwise mechanical tale by playing the character’s rapid, arduous fall from having to lose everything.

Marshall-Green has a more assured presence, but there’s a clear lack of chemistry between the two, so we’re kept on the surface once again. While the home and its inhabitants have an ethereal beauty, the film around them is disappointingly banal, director Adam Salky unable to stray from the dog-eared Netflix script.

It’s an acceptable choice as additional material, with the basic A-to-B-to-C storyline proving engaging enough for us to not care what happens but at least watch how awful it all becomes. Intrusion’s central thread of perversity elevates it beyond the usual, jolting us up momentarily before we sleepily click on something else.

Thanks to Benjamin Lee at The Guardian whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.


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