THE OWNERS (2020)
Directed by Julius Berg
Written by Julius Berg, Mathieu Gompel (screenply), based on the comic by Hermann and Yves H.
Starring Maisie Williams, Sylvester McCoy, Rita Tushingham, Jake Curran, Andrew Ellis, Ian Kenny, Stacha Hicks
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A group of desperate kids break into an old creepy house intending to nab some valuables. While gathering loot, they don’t realize the owners returning home. Though they try to leave, they find themselves trapped inside the home and the owners turn out to be…long dramatic pause…cannibals/zombies/vampires/dogmen/Nazis/aliens/cats with lasers for eyes. THE OWNERS is the latest in a long line of bungled up heist horror tales and while I won’t spoil what the owners are, I will discuss whether it is worth finding out or not.
Maisie Williams plays Mary, a spunky teen who has poor choice in boyfriends as her’s, Nathan (played by Ian Kenny) plans to rob the local doctor’s home. When Doctor Huggins (Sylvester McCoy) and his wife Ellen (Rita Tushingham) leave their home. Nathan, his childhood friend Terry (Andrew Ellis), and a new friend Gaz (Jake Curran) decide it’s the prime time to break in and steal some valuables. Knowing the Huggins have a safe somewhere in their home, the would-be robbers intend to get rich on the spoils. Having borrowed Mary’s car, the group are surprised when Mary tracks them down as they are casing the joint and Mary gets pulled into the robbery. When they cannot get into the safe, they decide to wait until the Huggins come home and bully them into opening it. Unfortunately, when the Huggins come home, it turns out that they are more than the teens were counting on.
The reason why folks are going to want to see THE OWNERS is because GAME OF THRONES star Maisie Williams is starring in it. While she doesn’t kick as like she did as Arya Stark here, she does prove to be a solid little actress. Her acting actually saves a lot of the drama which feels a bit cartoonish when it comes from the buffoonish Terry, the fiendish Gaz, the obviously manipulative Dr. Huggins, or the infantilized Mrs. Huggins. She actually offers up some nuance and power in her performance and the director is right to have the bulk of the drama and action revolve around Williams.
While the concept of the botched heist has been done in LIVIDE, DON’T BREATHE, PANIC ROOM, and scores of others, the make or break detail is the reveal of who or what the intended victims of the robbery turn out to be. Much anticipation is built upon this reveal in THE OWNERS and I think that director Julius Berg did such a good job building up the suspense that it would have been impossible to live up to the viewers’ expectations if the Huggins would have turned out to be the Devil and his bride. This is THE OWNERS’ biggest mistake as it builds this tension to a fever pitch and for the entire film, I’m waiting for the other foot to drop. Unfortunately, the drop doesn’t really come until the very end of the film and when it does, it’s not all of that impressive a drop at all.
I kept waiting for this big reveal that would make everything make sense. But instead the mystery is postponed until the very end. When it does occur, I was left with a “That’s it?” question passing my disappointed lips. Clues are scattered about amongst panicked dialog throughout the film that makes the last second reveal make sense, but because the film ends when it does, the weight of this revelation simply isn’t as big a deal as I feel the filmmakers and cast wanted it to be.
THE OWNERS felt like a whole lotta build-up leading to a very lackluster ending. While Williams is the true standout of the film, it doesn’t save the disappointing feeling I had when the credits rolled. There are quite a few tense scenes, some interesting grue, and some offbeat characters in THE OWNERS, but that’s not enough when you build your entire movie on a last second reveal which turns out to be weak.