The Owners

***

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Owners
"It's almost the equivalent of pantomime, an established genre style in which we all all know that certain things are going to happen at certain times - some of them grisly - with the surprise lying in the (ahem) execution." | Photo: Courtesy of FrightFest

Selection by Frightfest is a pretty good recommendation for a horror film. This one promises crime as well, and a tense stand-off with the promise of action - but let's face it, that's not why most people will watch it. Its biggest selling point is that people want to see who will win in a fight between Doctor Who and Arya Stark.

Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy plays Richard Huggins, the local GP in a small English town, who lives in a handsome detached house with his beloved wife Ellen (Rita Tushingham), who is beginning to succumb to dementia.. Game Of Thrones alumna Maisie Williams plays Mary, a local girl whose only mistake is having become attached to low quality boyfriend Nathan (Ian Kenny) when, to be fair, there probably aren't many good quality boyfriend candidates around. Certainly not his friend Terry (Andrew Ellis) who was married to her twin sister but can't seem to stop sleazing at her. Now the two of them, under the influence of violent stranger Gaz (Jake Curran) have decided to rob the doctor's house whilst he's out at dinner. Because they took her car, which she needs to get to work, she follows them - and happens to be inside the house when the doctor returns home.

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Of the two stars, Williams acquits herself best - but then, she has more room too, in a straight role which allows her to show us something of her broader acting range. McCoy hams up his character, as does Tushingham, partly to keep us guessing and partly because they are both very clearly aware of the sort of film they're in, as most of the audience will be. There's a playfulness about all this. It's almost the equivalent of pantomime, an established genre style in which we all all know that certain things are going to happen at certain times - some of them grisly - with the surprise lying in the (ahem) execution.

Curran makes an effective initial villain, cruel by nature, using both psychological and physical nastiness to get what he wants. He's come from a place where the rules are different and he has no sympathy for anyone. The doctor, by contrast, is all about people skills - they're part of his professional toolkit. He handles people very well. It's a small practical oversight that tips Mary off to the fact that not everything here is as it seems.

Set almost entirely within one house, the film makes good use of space. The set decoration is very effective at telling us who the Hugginses are and reminding us that we're on their territory. This is a film in which a cup of tea can be as dangerous as a hammer. We know where it's going, but Williams' energy and conviction keep us rooting for her as her situation becomes ever more desperate.

The Owners won't take you anywhere unexpected but as small scale horror goes, it's an entertaining ride.


The Owners will be released on DVD and Digital HD on 15 February 2021.

Reviewed on: 24 Oct 2020
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One night in Nineties rural England, a retired couple finds their isolated house besieged by a gang of young criminals. The thieves think it will be easy to make them give up the secret of their safe. But they have no idea what nightmare they’ve gotten themselves into as they fight to escape the house alive.

Director: Julius Berg

Writer: Mathieu Gompel, Julius Berg, Geoff Cox

Starring: Maisie Williams, Sylvester McCoy, Rita Tushingham, Jake Curran

Year: 2020

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: UK

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Frightfest 2020

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