Review: The Owners

Year: 2020
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Writers: Mathieu Gompel, Julius Berg, Geoff Cox
Director: Julius Berg
Stars: Maisie Williams, Mathieu Gompel, Julius Berg, Geoff Cox

By Mique Watson

Tell me if this sounds familiar: a group of four lowlifes want to make some easy money. A mansion owned by an elderly couple; a doctor and his wife is the only thing that stands in the way of the promise of mountains of cash and a secure future. So, the band of wankers break into the house while gram and gramps are out, only to discover that their nonexistent plan has backfired–one thing leads to another, and the tables have turned.

This is virtually the exact same plot as 2016’s thrilling and inventive “Don’t Breathe”. I could find a review of the film, change the names of the cast, and it would totally pass as a review for this flick. The tables turning isn’t the only twist, of course, because audiences gotta be kept on their feet! Except the additional (and admittedly shoehorned) plot twist barely makes any sense in the context of this film–which is shameful given how much better it was done prior. 

Our trio includes Gaz, Nathan, and Terry (Jake Curran, Ian Kenny, Andrew Ellis). Terry’s mum apparently works as a maid for the wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Huggins (Sylvester McCoy, Rita Tushingham)–Terry is convinced that the house contains a safe which, if unlocked, will contain everything the three would need to get their lives started. One thing leads to another, and Nathan’s Girlfriend Mary (Maisie Willaims–in the best performance she’s given in a role outside “Game of Thrones”) is gaslit into taking part in their scheme.

“Berg allows seasoned performers, McCoy and Tushingham, to cast aside all inhibitions and go full-blown balls-to-the-wall on these youngsters.”

Their “scheme”, however, is so under-planned that you understand why these vacuous blokes can’t just get a job (hearing them speak makes you wonder if any of them can even pass a third grade spelling exam). No gloves, no masks, and the odd need to touch everything in the house regardless of whether or not it has anything to do with finding the safe–they realize they’re in over their heads and have to wait until old gram and gramps get back home. Naturally, however, things spiral out of control; this is where the fun starts.

“The Owners” is completely derivative–despite its writers (Mathieu Gompel, Julius Berg, Geoff Cox) bringing nothing new to the table, director Julius Berg conjures up a darkly funny treat that had me cheering at times. When the tables have turned after the first act, we’re treated to a tension-filled, gruesome meat grinder of a film. 

Berg allows seasoned performers, McCoy and Tushingham, to cast aside all inhibitions and go full-blown balls-to-the-wall on these youngsters. Some may attempt to draw metaphors from this narrative about classism and whatnot, but make no mistake: you’re totally allowed to switch off your brain and enjoy all the gruesome, dark thrills and still have it by worth your while. 

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