A group of friends think they found the perfect easy score — an empty house with a safe full of cash. But when the elderly couple that lives there comes home early the tables are suddenly turned. As a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues the would-be thieves are left to fight to save themselves from a nightmare they could never have imagined.
For a long while, Julius Berg’s The Owners comes across as any other home invasion horror slasher. It has the familiar beats that we are all used to – a couple of people break into a certain location, they think that they are going to be rich and won’t ever have to work another day in their lives, but soon enough, they discover that they won’t be getting away that easy.
Although the first act here is fairly well done in terms of a directing standpoint and thrusts you right into the action, it feels quite safe and predictable. That is, however, until the second act comes into play because that is where The Owners truly shines and shows that it actually has some good meat on its bones.
The instant the central conflict of the film is revealed to us, the film as a whole becomes relentlessly entertaining from that point onward. It’s an injection of insanely fun moments mixed with some truly intense moments along the way. Eventually, the movie does become a little bit predictable again but gratefully, for the majority of the running time, The Owners still manages to be an exciting and masterfully acted horror film.
Maisie Williams is the true standout here as Mary, who doesn’t want to be involved in this heist whatsoever. The only reason why she is there is because she is dating Nathan, who is in on the operation. She waits in her vehicle for Nathan and the rest of the group to escape, but she ends up waiting for an extremely long time and begins to get worried. She starts wondering if anything bad could have possibly happened to them which leads her to go inside the house herself. It’s this exact moment where The Owners gets crazy.
Mary’s character is one that is nuanced, layered, and sympathetic. It’s largely in part due to Williams’ hugely powerful performance. She is, in my opinion, one of the best actresses of this generation and with this role, she proves that. Williams is asked to do a lot with this character and makes it look easy. There are many scenes in which she is required to show extreme emotion with just her face and it’s truly remarkable.
But Ian Kenny as Nathan also needs immense praise. Here, he feels totally out of control, almost like a ticking time bomb. Nathan genuinely doesn’t want to be doing the heist either, but he feels desperate. Mary is pregnant and Nathan doesn’t have a good source of income. He knows that if he does do this heist, the two of them will never have to worry about money, and will be able to take care of both themselves and their newborn.
His character is forced into so many tough scenarios that are fascinating to watch. Kenny’s performance feels raw and unfiltered in all the best ways. He is definitely a talent to look out for in the near future.
Like I mentioned earlier, the film doesn’t necessarily do the best job at coming up with a wholly original story and it doesn’t put a greatly clever twist on a familiar concept, but because its second and third acts are remarkably intense and bloody, the performances all across the board and the direction by Julis Berg are all so great, it’s hard to deny that The Owners is a fun escape from the real world.
The Owners may not be the most innovative home invasion thriller, but it’s saved by its two lead performances, eerie atmosphere, and great direction.
Overall Grade: B
MPAA Rating: N/A
Directed by: Julius Berg
Distributed by: RLJE Films
Release Date: September 4, 2020
Running Time: 92 minutes