Weinberg Reviews TRESPASS

I am a firm believer in the video-on-demand (VOD) distribution model. Let's face it: there are a LOT more movies than there are theater auditoriums in which to exhibit them. As such, I don't think it's fair for a direct-to-video (dtv) or VOD title to be automatically branded a turkey. As the movie marketplace becomes more and more crowded, companies must look to some less flashy but decidedly more realistic avenues of distribution: cable TV, direct-to-video, and, of course, video-on-demand. Kevin Smith did it with Red State; Magnolia did it with Lars Von Trier's Melancholia, and ... you get the point.

I offer the previous paragraph as context. In other words: the recent VOD release, Joel Schumacher's Trespass (which is also receiving a very limited theatrical release today), is a truly, sometimes hilariously bad film, but I certainly wouldn't blame its distribution model for the flick's problems. For that we need to look at the script, the director, and a few big stars who took a quick paycheck on a silly project -- and now must pay for their transgressions.

Best described as a home invasion thriller that borrows liberally from every similar film, starting with 1955's The Desperate Hours, Trespass stars Nicolas Cage as a jewelry broker and Nicole Kidman as his ... wife. They have a mopey teenage daughter. (Pay attention, that's an important plot point.) One night their beautiful house is invaded, rather raucously, by four imbeciles. (One of the imbeciles is a female. That's also a plot point.) The invaders want the diamonds and/or the money that Kyle Miller (Cage) is hiding inside a massive safe, but the posh and petulant victim is having none of it. No matter how much scenery the invaders chew, no matter how much random spittle flies across the screen, Kyle simply refuses to open the safe. His wife, for her part, whines in the background and waits for her allegedly shocking subplot to arrive.

Bolstered by a lot of screaming, whining, and boisterous proclamations about "this" being the "final straw," the screenplay for Trespass is 85% material that's been lifted from Hostage, Panic Room, whatever, and 15% plain old stupid. There's a flat redundancy to the frequent exchanges between villain and "hero," and the screenplay is done very few favors by the goofy, white-trash performances by Cam Gigandet, Ben Mendehlson, and the downright grating Jordana Spiro. Ms. Kidman manages to tiptoe through the violent silliness relatively unscathed, although her poor stunt double does get slammed into more than a few items of furniture.

And then there's Mr. Nicolas Cage as the secretive Kyle Miller. Hoo boy. Lord knows the man loves to bring a few degrees of random weirdness to many of his roles, and that's part of why we love him, but here he adopts a frustrating nasal whine that's clearly meant to imply that his character is a geek, but also serves a dual purpose: it makes the viewer want to bash his head in with a large piece of wood. Cage fans will no doubt delight in a few of the actor's shriekiest scenes, but overall his performance is equal parts dry and annoying.

Written by first-timer Karl Gadjusek and directed by wandering tripod Joel Schumacher, Trespass is hardly the worst "big name" movie to premiere through VOD, but if the format is to become a viable form of distribution, well, we're going to need better flicks than this stupid thing.

Trespass opens today in limited theatrical release across the U.S., and is also available via Video On Demand platforms. Check local listings and/or your cable provider for information on availability.

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