The owners offers a fresh twist on the home invasion genre which combines a variety of great performances by its young cast members featuring the likes of Maisie Williams (Game of thrones) and some even more stellar performances given by its villainous elderly couple; Mr and Mrs Huggins, played meticulously by Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor) and Rita Tushingham, which accumulates into an intense game of cat and mouse which subverts your expectations at every turn and once again proves that you should never underestimate your elders.
Julius Berg makes his directorial debut after working mostly within the realms of French television (la forest, falco) and proves that he has a real talent for building suspense and an ever intensifying level of drama that refuses to let up. He drags his audience through buckets of gore and when the film reaches its latter half closes them in by shifting the aspect ratio, effectively skewing their vision with a heightened sense of claustrophobia and dread.
The narrative set up is simple. Three would-be criminals; Nathan (Ian Kenny) Terry (Andrew Ellis) and the mullet sporting Gaz (Jake Curran) attempt to burgle a large house out in the middle of the English country side, after hearing of a safe hidden somewhere within. From the start, the trio are doomed to fail, neither of them having any credible experience on the matter between them and once their plan is set into motion it’s the introduction of Maisie Williams’ Mary who acts as the movies moral anchor. She’s Nathan’s girlfriend and makes it clear from the outset that she doesn’t want to be a part of it but her boyfriend determination sways her enough to stay and his hope that whatever they find in the safe will set them up for life.
The group inevitably find the safe but it soon becomes apparent that neither of them have any idea how to open it, leaving them stuck in the house waiting for the owners return. However, It’s the owners return that really sets the movie into motion. Unlike your typical home owners, Mr and Mrs Huggins are more than prepared to handle this group of misfits. It’s clear early on that the pair aren’t as innocent as they first appear and after a dispute amongst the thieves allows them to quickly break free, the movies quickly shifts into something more akin to Wes cravens ‘the last house on the left’.
Berg proves he’s got the chops to handle the shift in genre and when the body count begins to rise, showcases he’s got the stomach to provide some gnarly kills too. As the tension begins to ratchet up to a near palpable state, it’s hard not to feel for the films ‘final girl’ as she begs for her survival. Williams turns in a raw performance rarely seen in the genre and even stands toe to toe in certain scenes with her villainous counterparts who are equally as captivating in their portrayals.
The owners is a great movie and will find an audience within the many fans of the genre. Despite slowing around the 60 minute mark, it still manages to find its feet during its savage climax which highlights some career best moments from its ensemble cast and an ending, as predictable as it may be to those well versed in these types of movies, will still leave many with their jaws swinging in the wind.
Horror, Thriller | UK, 2020 | 18 | DVD | 1st March 2021 (UK) | Signature Entertainment | Dir. Julius Berg | Maisie Williams, Sylvester McCoy, Rita Tushingham, Jake Curran, Ian Kenny