Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman look terrified in the poster for “Trespass.” No wonder.
They play a couple whose luxurious home is invaded by a gang of robbers who terrorize them and their teenage daughter. Think “Straw Dogs” (the original) without the moral posturing and British accents.
While the film has a couple of major plot twists, director Joel Schumacher and screenwriter Karl Gajdusek are mostly interested in scaring us witless.
A paralyzing injection does the trick, though the blood-curdling mood is often undercut by Cage’s tremulous overacting. Kidman also works up a good sweat, displaying an impressive array of deer-in-the-headlight looks and don’t-mess-with-me moves.
Cage’s Kyle Miller is a workaholic diamond dealer who has neglected his architect wife Sarah. Returning from an out-of-town trip, he pulls his Porsche into the family’s gated driveway and walks straight into an argument between his wife and rebellious daughter Avery (Liana Liberato), who’s been told she can’t attend a party.
Moments later, a man claiming to be a sheriff’s deputy rings the buzzer at the security gate and says he’s investigating robberies in the neighborhood. When Kyle opens the door, he’s assaulted by three masked men (Ben Mendelsohn, Cam Gigandet, Dash Mihok) and their female companion.
The gang includes a pair of brothers, one of whom scouted the place while doing security work there. They order Kyle to open his safe, where they expect to find a treasure of diamonds, but he refuses.
Thus begins a bloody night of terror, during which betrayals and secrets are revealed. If you’re willing to suspend rational thought, “Trespass” can be a guilty pleasure. Otherwise, it will make you wince.
“Trespass,” from Millennium Entertainment, opens tomorrow in New York and Los Angeles. Rating: **
‘Father of Invention’
After making a fortune with dual-purpose gadgets such as the Ab Clicker (abdominal exerciser/remote control) and Pepper Cam (pepper spray/digital camera), infomercial guru Robert Axle gets busted when a flawed invention chops off customers’ fingers.
When he’s released from prison eight years later, Axle (Kevin Spacey) ends up working at a Wal-Mart clone and living with his estranged daughter (Camilla Belle) and her two roommates. He tries to make a comeback as a pitchman, but soon realizes he’s slipping into his old ways.
Written and directed by Trent Cooper (“Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector”), “Father of Invention” has some memorable moments and Spacey’s sympathetic performance is fun to watch. However, the story is as gimmicky and fleeting as Axle’s products.
“Father of Invention,” from Anchor Bay Films, opens tomorrow in New York and Los Angeles: Rating: **
‘Texas Killing Fields’
Ami Canaan Mann follows in her father’s footsteps with “Texas Killing Fields,” a thriller about a serial killer who mutilates his victims and dumps them in a marsh.
The director’s dad, Michael Mann, is known for noirish crime movies such as “Thief,” “Heat” and “Collateral.” Ami Mann has yet to develop a distinctive style, but she clearly shares her father’s fascination with the dark side of human nature.
Two detectives, a local cop (Sam Worthington) and a transplanted New Yorker (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), team up to hunt a killer suspected of dozens of unsolved murders near a small Texas town. They chase promising leads, fight jurisdictional battles and send tracking dogs into the bayou, but the mystery deepens.
The plot is hard to follow and some characters, including the local detective’s former wife (Jessica Chastain), are dispensable. Worthington and Morgan are a strong duo, though, and the spooky mood is hard to shake.
“Texas Killing Fields,” from Anchor Bay Films, opens tomorrow in New York and Los Angeles. Rating: **1/2
‘Fireflies in Garden’
Despite a stellar cast that includes Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe and Emily Watson, the dysfunctional-family story “Fireflies in the Garden” rarely rises above soap-opera melodrama.
The high-achieving Taylor clan is fraught with strained relationships -- between father and son, husband and wife, brother and sister, aunt and nephew. When a family celebration is marred by tragedy, all the conflicts surface and everyone is forced to deal with the past as well as the present.
While the title of Dennis Lee’s film comes from Robert Frost, that’s as poetic as it gets.
“Fireflies in the Garden” opens tomorrow in New York and Los Angeles. Rating: *1/2
What the Stars Mean: **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
(Rick Warner is the movie critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
To contact the writer on the story: Rick Warner in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at email@example.com.