Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Squatters: Movie Review


Simplistic and convenient writing of unsympathetic characters.

“Squatters” features a pair of homeless hippies, Jonas (Thomas Dekker) who likes sticking it to the man by robbing anything and everything, and Kelly (Gabriella Wilde) who is so strung out on drugs she wouldn’t know who or where she is. Like in real life, these characters are despicable people and don’t deserve our sympathies. Jonas’ newest target is a filthy rich family leaving for vacation; sympathy for these characters isn’t introduced until much later. 2014

Directed by: Martin Weisz

Screenplay by: Justin Shilton

Starring: Gabriella Wilde, Thomas Dekker

The plot description suggests that the family comes home and finds the squatters in their house, but the main plot is really just Jonas and Kelly living the high life and the crime life because the family doesn’t come home until the final quarter of the film. Kelly’s character arc was shooting for redemption as she was concerned that what they were doing is illegal (uh, yeah, of course) and started to get to know the family through their home videos. Jonas’s character arc was just a moronic hippie getting himself into moronic crimes, all of which I couldn’t care less about.

The final unraveling of the lives of all the individuals involved and the conclusion of the plot was well handled; however, everything that came before it can be hard to maintain your attention, and the characters don’t deserve any kind of redemption. I suppose there was supposed to be a “satisfying” conclusion to Kelly and Jonas’s stories, but these are hippies with no regard for anybody or anything around them, so not only do we not care about them, but they shouldn’t even get a satisfying conclusion.

I think the rich family was supposed to represent characters whom we shouldn’t judge at first glance as their lives and motivations are more complicated than suggested. But unfortunately their introductory and concluding scenes were poorly written. For example, Jonas overhears a conversation between the rich wife Evelyn and her housekeeper in a public parking lot where Evelyn mentions that they are going on vacation. Jonas’s ears are perked, the natural question would then be, “how to break in?” Luckily, Evelyn decides to just say their alarm pass code out loud, just incase somebody was listening who was hoping to break into their house. The entire film was similarly easy conveniences which are just too easy and convenient.

There is a romance angle, not between Kelly and Jonas, but between Kelly and the rich family’s son, Michael (Luke Grimes). It’s perhaps the best plot of the movie (not counting the main climax scene), but it’s also painfully predictable. I’d like to see Grimes and Wilde outside of these simplistic, unsympathetic characters as “Squatters” doesn’t offer much of interest.