★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Three home invaders and a hapless girlfriend break into the wrong house in this sinister, often chilling U.K. film that offers up a few surprises and a lot of viciousness.
Directed by Julius Berg
The latest entry into the home-invasion-gone-awry subgenre (following such entries as Don’t Breathe and You’re Next) is U.K. effort The Owners. Director Julius Berg delivers a horror thriller with creepy performances and nastiness aplenty.
Three young men attempt to rob the home of Dr. Richard Huggins (Sylvester McCoy of Dr. Who) and his wife Ellen (Rita Tushingham) while the elderly couple is out. When Plan A fails, as might be expected in this sort of story, big dreamer Nathan (Ian Kenny), his rather useless friend Terry (Andrew Ellis), and their recent drifter acquaintance Gaz (Jake Curran in a pitch-perfect role as a demented, violence-prone no-goodnik) improvise a plan whereby they will wait until the couple gets home and then scare the combination to a safe out of them. One wrench in the works is that Nathan’s girlfriend Mary (Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones and The New Mutants), whose care the trio has borrowed, has come inside the house and unwittingly gotten herself involved in the proceedings.
Naturally, Plan B doesn’t go over too slickly for the criminals, either, and a box-cutter fight leads the Hugginses to promise to assist the injured if they could just get untied, please, and it also leads to Mary stepping up big time to help out Nathan. The Huggins house holds many secrets, though, and as the homeowners try to defend those secrets against the home invaders, things get bloody and violent.
Based on the graphic novel Une Nuit de Pleine Lune by Belgian artists Hermann Huppen, The Owners is directed with verve by Julius Berg, who cowrote the screenplay with Mathieu Gompel, with the participation of Geoff Cox. Berg’s sense of timing regarding suspense and action sequences is super. He is aided greatly by his all-in cast, highlighted by chilling performances from McCoy as a soft-spoken, seemingly trustworthy physician and the manic approach of Curran. The standout performance is from Williams, though, as her character goes from scared, confused observer to a young woman determined to survive.
The Owners may cover familiar territory as it sets up its second and third act, but it delivers plenty of nail-biting tension and eerie sequences along with a jarring climax. Recommended, The Owners, from RLJE Films, is now available in theaters, and On Demand and Digital.