The Owners, 2020.
Directed by Julius Berg.
Starring Maisie Williams, Sylvester McCoy, Rita Tushingham, Ian Kenny, Stacha Hicks, Jake Curran, and Andrew Ellis.
A group of friends think they find an easy score at an empty house with a safe full of cash. But when the owners, an elderly couple, come home early, the tables are suddenly turned.
There is a gross miscalculation if director Julius Berg (co-writing with Mathieu Gompel, adapting the comic book by Yves H) thinks anyone that watches his home invasion heist thriller The Owners is going to root or even empathize with a single character. To put it in perspective, one of the characters on the side of heroes (a term to be played loose with here) is not only dimwitted but is more concerned with whether Maisie Williams’ romantically taken character will reciprocate his love or not rather than survive the violence and mystery surrounding them. At one point he forces her onto a bed and starts to make out with her. 10 minutes later she is trying to rescue him because they are on the same page avoiding to be murdered (but only sometimes; the character is easily manipulated and he may be mentally challenged, but you wouldn’t know it because everyone calls everyone the R-word in this movie including Maisie Williams, once again, the closest thing to a protagonist with a moral compass here.)
The Owners is straight-up bad and I hated every second watching this movie. It’s about a group of young adults that decide to rob an elderly couple when they are away from their remote residence, as one of them has been tipped off that there is an electronic safe somewhere most likely containing enough money to drastically alter the course of their lives. They are a degenerate bunch, and the fact that Maisie Williams’ Mary is pregnant with Nathan’s (Ian Kenny) is supposed to make them sympathetic, but it’s hard to get on the side of anyone when they are terrorizing and physically torturing grandmas and grandpas (obviously, nothing goes as planned.) Of course, the old folks are not completely helpless and defenseless; that’s the spin on this style of movie. And as the movie goes on we learn that they are far more twisted than any of the robbers.
Julius Berg is hoping that the character of Mary can make this film tolerable and digestible. When the torturing begins to go too far, she actually tries to call the police and get her own group in trouble as she is rightfully horrified by what is going on. Her boyfriend Nathan is uncomfortable with going through with the already botched robbery but knows that he’s going to need to pull this off to be able to financially provide for his unborn baby. Then there’s Gaz (Jake Curran) who is nothing more than the full-on psychopath of the bunch that is willing to do anything to get Dr. Huggins (Sylvester McCoy, who really gets to go over-the-top when the true nature of his character is unleashed) to spill the beans on the safe combination (it turns out to not be electronic.)
The dynamic shift from hunters to hunted occurs relatively early on, which is fine in itself but leads to the bigger issue that The Owners is really only interested in trying to twist and turn such a simple concept far beyond logic and believability and even entertainment value. None of it connects together in any coherent way, so if you’re hoping to see anyone get inside the safe just go ahead and forget about that right now. The film is just a string of red herrings and nonsensical plot points meant to get across that just about everyone in this movie is somehow insane and mentally damaged.
Unfortunately, all it does is render The Owners one of the most repulsive films of the year. During the finale, Maisie Williams starts beating the shit out of someone with a frying pan, and I actually started to laugh maniacally, not so much because it was funny but more that the movie had gone so far into trash territory that it broke me.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, check out my personal non-Flickering Myth affiliated Patreon, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com