The Owners is a boilerplate thriller set amidst the wealthy British countryside. Three friends, Nathan (Ian Kenny), Terry (Andrew Ellis), and the wildcard Gaz (Jake Curran) attempt to rob an elderly home. When Nathan’s girlfriend Mary (Maisie Williams) interrupts their plans, the group decides to change course and confront the elders directly in order to get the safe password. When the Huggins return, a cat-and-mouse game ensues between the two sides as the old pair reveal some tricks up their sleeve.
While fairly straightforward in conception, The Owners tries to delicately twist its home invasion formula by playing against the audience’s expectations. Unfortunately for writers Julius Berg and Mathieu Gompel, their so-called twist can be seen coming from miles away, leaving audiences with a fairly commonplace genre diversion.
Under the banality, The Owners does establish a base level of competency. Julius Berg’s big-screen directorial debut displays some well-constructed chills, with the director injecting a stylistic flair to spice up familiar trappings. Not all the choices add to the narrative (an aspect ratio change in the third act lacks substance), but they do enhance the uneasy thrills while keeping audiences on their toes.
Berg’s assured cast also hold their own, with Maisie Williams continuing to display her natural ability as the film’s semi-lead. Veteran character actors Rita Tushingham and Sylvester McCoy make the biggest impression though, infusing the Higgins’ geriatric state with some sinister undertones.
There are glimmers of sweaty tension lingering throughout, yet The Owners sinks under the weight of its conceptual promise. The script becomes too self-satisfied with its simplistic approach, offering little depth to enhance the one-note character work and stale narrative.
There’s no thematic throughline to connect the underbaked elements, as the film simply offers nastiness without purpose and entertainment value. Considering films like Don’t Breathe have already taken this set-up and expanded upon its conventions, it isn’t enough for a film like this to simply go through the motions.
Closing on a gotcha ending that will leave most shrugging, The Owners rarely distinguishes itself from its genre counterparts.
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