By Clio McConnell
From the very beginning, “Trespass” has the audience stunned, and not in the way the filmmakers probably hoped. Intended as a dramatic story of suspense and betrayal, Joel Schumacher’s new thriller has its viewers in constant anticipation only because the end can’t come soon enough.
In the first few minutes of the film, before the arrival of a band of burglars (a motley crew led by Ben Mendelsohn), we get a glimpse into the not-so-glamorous lifestyle of the Miller family. Nicolas Cage plays well-to-do diamond salesman Kyle Miller, dressed in sharp suits and always yelling at someone on his state-of-the-art mobile phone. Playing opposite Cage as his architect-slash-homemaker wife, Sarah, is Nicole Kidman, while Liana Liberato plays Avery, the star couple’s insubordinate daughter.
Kidman is definitely the one who carries the fictional relationship; while Cage is often stiff as cardboard, she manages to realistically portray the neglected spouse of an over-worked businessman and mother of a rebellious teenaged daughter. Similarly, she has the added charm of being an attractive woman, whereas Cage’s lank, greasy hair is enough to make viewers grimace, and that’s not to mention the inexplicable fact that he seems to be wearing dentures for much of the movie.
Plot-wise, Trespass makes about as much sense as Cage’s premature dental wear. Kyle Miller arrives home from work, ignoring his family as he upbraids a business associate on his cell phone. His wife, Sarah, is in the midst of an argument with their daughter, Avery, about whether she should be allowed to attend a party that evening. The family dynamic is as familiar as can be, up to and including Avery’s sneaky escape from the Millers’ secluded estate. Just as Kyle is about to head out again—wounding Sarah’s pride by refusing to eat dinner with her—there is a buzz on the intercom. Two police officers stand at the door, informing Mr. Miller that they’re investigating a string of burglaries in the neighborhood. Grumbling all the while, Kyle grants them access, and seconds later he and his wife are held at gunpoint.
From this point on, Schumacher’s film becomes a mix of a mentally unstable Cam Gigandet, a vulnerable Nicole Kidman, a preoccupied Nicolas Cage, and a whole slew of torture scenes. With only 90 minutes running time, a good 75 of those involve someone getting shot, slashed, burned, beaten, or stuck with a lethal injection. And conveniently, as in every bad suspense movie, no matter how much torment and physical damage they sustain, the characters never seem to die. Finally, towards the end of the film, Gigandet voices the thought of the audience and manages to sum up the entire movie in one fell swoop: “Could this be any more [expletive] up?!”
Yes, we do get to see a mostly naked Cam Gigandet, and yes, there is some satisfaction in seeing Nicole Kidman go postal, but mostly Trespass manages to torture its audience as much as its characters.
Clio is a staff writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.