Home invasion movies scare the hell out of me. Just the idea of someone invading your personal space and threatening you and/or your family scares me much more than monsters, aliens or any other type of creature that might inhabit a horror film. With that being said, like most horror fans, I’m drawn to what scares me. Anytime a home invasion movie comes my way, you can definitely color me interested and optimistic. I loved 2008’s THE STRANGERS, both versions of Haneke’s FUNNY GAMES, 2006’s ILS and pretty much most of any other entries into the subgenre. Luckily, Jeremy Power Regimbal’s IN THEIR SKIN (formerly titled REPLICAS), lives up to most of the standards set by previous films of the sort.
IN THEIR SKIN follows Mark and Mary Hughes (DIARY OF THE DEAD and THE MASTER‘s Joshua Close and HELLBOY‘s Selma Blair), who along with their son Brendon (TRICK R TREAT‘s Quinn Lord), decide to take a trip to their cottage to spend time together, following the accidental death of their daughter. Their relationships with each other are somewhat strained because of the tragedy and that strain is magnified even more, when the couple’s sleep is interrupted by an odd family bringing wood to the house. Bob and Jane (BULLY‘s Rachel Miner and and intense as hell James D’arcy, HITCHCOCK) along with their son, Jared, are completely oblivious to the fact that it’s the crack of dawn, and after unintentionally being rude to them, Mark agrees to have the family over for dinner…not smart Mark.
Though an innocent meal at first, Mark and Mary begin to realize that asking the neighbors over was a huge mistake, when Bob and Jane begin to ask an overabundance of probing questions about the Hughes’ life together, their jobs, and continually tell them how much they envy the way that they live. The whole dinner scene makes the viewer feel uncomfortable as hell, mostly due to the fact that D’arcy carries such an awkward intensity as Bob, and it’s impossible to take your eyes of the character anytime that he’s on screen. Making things worse, Bob and Jane’s son pulls a knife on the Hughes’ son, which results in Mark and Mary telling the family to leave.
Almost instantly, they being to terrorize the Hughes family, and from this point on, IN THEIR SKIN begins to teeter on potentially heading into familiar waters. While the first half was a slow and intense build up, full of character development and keep the viewer interested, unfortunately once the Hughes family is taken hostage, we mostly know where the film is headed. What keeps the film interesting though, are the performances by both couples. Given anyone else, the film would lose its charm at this point, but all four actors turn in such interesting performances, that you’re still wanting to take the journey with them and to see if the Hughes family are able to outsmart Bob and Jane before they assume their lives.
Though far from perfect, IN THEIR SKIN has some pretty great moments, and while it almost loses the tension that it brilliantly built early on, it’s able to save itself, thanks to D’arcy, Miner, Close and Blair. Does it stay in your head long after it’s over, not really, but it’s well worth watching and is an entertaining 97 minutes of home invasion fun.
IN THEIR SKIN is now available on DVD and VOD via IFC Films.