What better way to smooth over tensions in a relationship than to book a couple’s getaway in a romantic, peaceful location overlooking a beautiful swathe of desert? Now imagine that you’ve decided to book with some old friends of yours, one of whom is an aggressive, racist cokehead. Frankly, the home invaders with guns can’t arrive quickly enough.
This is the set-up for Hell is Where the Home is (also known by the duller title of Trespassers) a film which, despite the odd flash of invention, ultimately finds itself relying too heavily on the familiar and the cliched. Our wealthy foursome are preparing for a weekend retreat complete with drugs, sex and dull interpersonal melodrama. There’s a lot of emotional baggage with this crew, and viewers should be prepared to spend quite a lot of time watching them fail to deal with it.
The tedium is broken by the arrival of a mysterious visitor, played by The Craft’s Fairuza Balk. She’s broken down right outside, and wants to use their phone. For a couple of scenes, her mildly frantic attempt to present herself as honest, moral and trustworthy creates some genuinely tense moments. The couples begin to suspect that all is not what it seems, but this is merely the prelude to the greater chaos to come.
Our characters are all uniquely unlikable, although this is not necessarily a bad thing in a film of this kind. Zach Avery as the foul-mouthed Joseph is a particularly nasty addition. His ‘Make America Great Again’-style diatribes that paint immigrants as all being machete-wielding criminals are clearly intended as some kind of social commentary. However, that messaging gets lost around the time the machete-wielding criminals show up.
The rest of the cast are very obviously divided into ‘Victim’, ‘Noble Sacrifice’ and ‘Survivor’ roles. While fans of the genre will have no problems in predicting the character’s fates, it’s possible the movie may surprise you with the when and how. This is not a film that is unafraid of pruning the herd early, and with a cast as irritating as this, that’s no bad thing.
Visually glossy, with a throbbing techno soundtrack that pairs very effectively with the ramping tension, Hell is where the Home is is a solid addition to the home invasion genre. However, It plays it safe too often, becoming predictable early on. Director Orson Oblowitz and writer Corey Deshon throw in the odd twist, but few are genuine surprises. Once it gets into gear, and leaves the squabbles of the main characters behind, there is some disquieting nastiness that will endear it to fans of violent home invasion movies. It’s not going to shake the genre up, but it’s a respectable entry.