Thursday, October 13, 2011

Schumacher's TRESPASS, with Cage & Kidman, hits theaters & VOD simultaneously

Well, TM was really hoping -- considering how laughable he found Joel Schumacher's recent Twelve -- that this genre-jumping director would bounce back and give us something maybe as good as his Phone Booth of some years back. (Of course, that one was written by the great Larry Cohen.) Instead we get TRESPASS, which, though it stars Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman and has a good, ensemble supporting cast, is nonetheless opening in limited theatrical release, while appearing on VOD the very same day.

Trespass starts out OK. It may, in fact, remind you a lot of last year's much darker (better, too) Spanish movie Kidnapped (Secuestrados), of which I initially imagined that Schumacher's film was the American remake: rich family; posh home; mom, dad and daughter as the main characters, with the daughter's insistence on going out for the evening providing the initial drama. (I also suspect that a few people connected with this film will have seen its Spanish precursor; if so, they've done the usual lightening-up to happy-fy American audiences.) Mr. Schumacher, pictured at left (with co-star Liana Liberato, who was so much better in last year's Trust), does a professional job with the film's opening, and his stars, shown below, deliver decent enough performances to keep us interested. For awhile.

But then, as the twists and turns pile up (at least half of these increasingly dumb and unbelievable), what should become fraught and tense instead starts to simply unravel. Eventually, we're rolling our tired eyes. In Kidnapped, much of the terror comes from the fact that we know so little about the aggressors.  Here, we start learning more and more about this little group of family/friends, and the more we learn, the sillier these "bad guys" begin to seem.

That they include the likes of Australia's Ben Mendelsohn (above, right, and so good in last year's Animal Kingdom) and cutie-pie Cam Gigandet (below, with Ms Kidman) and the always-interesting Dash Mihok, simply makes the growing silliness all the more sad. Theme-wise, the movie opens up the subject of the haves (who maybe have a bit less than we initially think) and have-nots, but it doesn't do much with this. Likewise, it's take on fidelity involves little more than letting us know who's done (or maybe not done) what to whom.

Too bad, because both these themes are worth exploring, but Schumancher and screenwriter Karl Gajdusek mostly want to keep scaring us with the would-be suspense of who will kill whom first. But because of the increasing "twists," even the suspense seems, after a time, strained and attenuated beyond what it -- and we viewers -- can or want to handle. And perhaps the silliest line of dialog uttered all year comes from the lips of Mr. Gigandet, as he answers a phone call from Security about why the home's emergency alarm is going off, and says, "We're gonna have to call you back."  Good boy! That's sure to keep Security at bay.

Compared to the genuine suspense Schumacher generated in Phone Booth, or that provided by the recent French thriller Point Blank, Trespass seems paltry indeed.  The movie, from Millennium Entertainment, opens this Friday, October 14, in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.  Click here and then click on BUY TICKETS to link to the proper theater in each of those cities.  Or, if you want to stay at home and watch, simply go to your local cable TV supplier's VOD choices, where you should find the film, starting this Friday.

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