Trespass is Another Red Chief Ransom

We would pay to have the latest Schumacher thriller abducted from theaters.

trespass 1 Trespass is Another Red Chief Ransom

Kidman and Gigandet.

How many ways can a film go wrong? Too many to list, and Trespass finds them all. This pointless, unintentionally campy home-invasion thriller, directed by Joel Schumacher, is as bad as it gets, and as one dumb red herring follows another, it just gets sillier and sillier. By the end, the audience at the screening I attended was roaring with laughter.

Before the masked killers arrive to brutalize them and destroy their high-tech mansion in the middle of the Louisiana swamps, Kyle and Sarah Miller (Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman) seem like the perfect couple. He is either a diamond merchant or a real estate tycoon (he’s hiding priceless gems and selling property on his mobile at the same time to reluctant clients). She’s an architect who designed an impractical glass house (in hurricane country?). She wears skin-tight, breast-stretching T-shirts and looks younger than their teenage daughter, Avery (Liana Liberato), although everybody is too obnoxious and self-involved to notice. Forbidden to party all night with the fast crowd at a cocaine-snorting orgy, Avery locks herself in her room and ignores the dinner tray Mom leaves on the floor. Meanwhile, Dad busies himself behind closed doors fiddling with a walk-in safe, talking secretly into a cell phone every waking moment, and heading for his Porsche to conduct mysterious “business.” Then the electronic chimes go off, the gate locks sound an alarm, and the house is invaded by men dressed like security guards, waving guns and ordering the family to gather in the living room. Uh-oh, Avery has sneaked out to party hearty somewhere on the bayou, and the nightmare begins. Demanding “everything you’ve got,” the intruders start slapping Mom around and knocking Dad’s eyeglasses onto the marble floor. From here on, the movie goes viral and incredulity reigns.

Instead of giving the hoodlums what they want to save his family and dream house, Kyle chooses argumentation over pragmatism. Why is he so uncooperative? While the movie shifts between the home invasion and the daughter’s party in the fast lane, Mr. Miller turns adversarial enough to dare the crooks to open fire with their Uzis, then arrogant enough to offer them a split in the stolen diamonds in his safe. Yes! He’s a criminal too! (Cue the giggles.) Instead of giving them the illegal gems, which are no longer in the safe and which can be traced, he stupidly negotiates with them, offering to find a fence, only minutes away from torture and death. The wife isn’t acting too rational either. Why does she keep flirting with the gang leader’s handsome younger brother (Cam Gigandet, the hunk from Burlesque)? He knows the house. Has he been there before, at Sarah’s invitation? Does her husband know? Aha! Here come the security tapes and there he is, in flashbacks, emerging almost naked from the swimming pool into her open arms. Enter the rebellious teenage sexpot, who goes hysterical, offering the tattooed girlfriend of one of the invaders a Vicodin. For hostages, nobody shows a lick of common sense. Or maybe it’s just bad acting. One thing is clear. The screaming, shrieking, weeping and cussing does not come from terror, but from a bad script and confused, unfocused direction. Instead of nervous tension, the audience reacts with nervous guffaws.

Trespass reunites the director with Mr. Cage, whom he directed in 8MM, and Ms. Kidman, who worked for him on the demented Batman Forever, two of the worst films of their careers. This one is worse. Stretching the talk from here to next week, director Schumacher avoids any real confrontation or plot development. The idiotic script, by somebody named Karl Gajdusek, makes no attempt at character exploration. Cameras soar around the room in a futile attempt to keep the action twisted and frantic, but the result is nausea, not tension. After getting banged around like a rag doll, Nicole Kidman turns black, blue and bloody, actually managing the impossible feat of looking cadaverous—and it’s not just the makeup. Meanwhile, something odd is happening to Mr. Cage’s face. His skin is yellow, his cheeks are swollen, and his head is too big for his body. The worst thing that ever happened to Hollywood is the invention of Botox.

rreed@observer.com

TRESPASS

Running Time 91 minutes

Written by Karl Gajdusek

Directed by Joel Schumacher

Starring Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman and Cam Gigandet

1/4