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Trespass (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 90 minutes

Not for children.

Kyle Miller (Nicolas Cage) is a diamond merchant who has built a fortress-style house in the hills for his wife, Sarah (Nicole Kidman) and teenage daughter, Avery (Liana Liberato). Shortly into the movie their pristine home is invaded by four hooded people who want Kyle's money.

This could have been laughable, but fortunately it has a good script by Karl Gajdusek and is directed by Joel Schumacher, who showed in Phone Booth that he could take a relatively flimsy premise and turn it into a tense, involving drama (let's not talk about what he did with Phantom of the Opera, but, to give him a little credit, he did what he could after Andrew Lloyd Webber refused to allow Michael Crawford to play the lead). As the run time indicates, it is tightly edited by Bill Pankow, who was responsible for two of my favored movies of recent years, Mesrine, Public Enemy No. 1, for which he won a Cesar nomination, and Letters to Juliet. Any good thriller needs music to set the tone and ambience and David Buckley provides it here. In fact, I think that music is the number one most important aspect of any thriller, given a good script and director. This film has all three.

I don't know what the actors were paid, but this was probably a fairly economical movie to produce, since there is only one location, little in the way of special effects, and a very small cast.

There are a few plot holes. One is the easy, trusting way that Kyle lets the miscreants into his home, given all the security he has built into it. But the holes aren't enough to lighten the tension when Kyle and Sarah are in what appears to be an unwinnable situation, as prisoners of violent criminals in an isolated location.

Although there is some violence that some might find disturbing, it's an entertaining 90 minutes. Cage and Kidman give fine performances.

October 11, 2011