This is one that just gets better and better as you watch…

The first portion of Squatters didn’t impress me very much.  After all, it simply consists of bad people doing bad things.  And, I was worried that the film would simply glorify rotten behavior or have the baddies die in a hail of bullets.  However, don’t worry—the film gets better—a lot better!  And, it doesn’t succumb to the usual clichés.

When the film begins, Jonas and Kelley (Thomas Dekker and Gabriella Wilde) are homeless.  They survive by rooting through dumpsters for food and shoplifting.  And, when they aren’t doing this, they sleep outdoors and do drugs.  Their life isn’t very satisfying or complete, that’s for sure.  However, through some dumb luck, while Jonas is out looking for something to steal, he manages to overhear a woman talking to her maid about their family going on vacation.  And, because the woman thinks the two of them are along, she tells the maid the combination to the burglar alarm system!  Jonas follows the lady woman home and it looks like he’s got it maid … the woman is rich!

Directed by
Martin Weisz
Gabriella Wilde, Luke Grimes, Thomas Dekker
Release Date
Martin’s Grade: A

Later, after the family has left for their trip, Jonas brings Kelley to the house for a little vacation…and to steal everything he can get!  For a while, the pair see what it’s like to live like rich folks—and they treat themselves to the family’s clothes and sports car as well as  a great dinner—all paid for by the people on vacation.  However, while they stay there, Kelley finds herself looking through videos of the family.  And, the more she watches them, the more connected with these people she feels.  And, over time, she starts to care for these people she’s never met and who they’ve been robbing.  Jonas, on the other hand, just sees it as a chance to make a HUGE killing—and plans on selling everything he can.  While this may not seem like that interesting a film, it’s the second half that really works well…when the family returns.  I could say a lot more about this, but frankly it would spoil the film.  Suffice to say it’s worth the wait.

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This is a very interesting film because Richard Dreyfus and Lolita Davidovich play very small parts in support of Dekker and Wilde.  Considering that Dreyfus is an Oscar-winning actor and probably doesn’t need the money, you can only assume he liked the script or director of they were holding his family hostage to make him appear in the film (I would REALLY like to know)!  Regardless, the pair were a really nice addition to what otherwise might just look like an indie picture. Dreyfus is, as always, terrific and Davidovich is timelessly beautiful. They also make GREAT supporting characters.  Imagine…a Hollywood film in which rich people are nice and haven’t earned their fortunes by being jerks!  They are just sweet folks—as is their son in the film (played by Luke Grimes).  In fact, although I am definitely straight, I found myself falling in love with Grimes’ character—he was just so decent and sweet!  With such great support, the film cannot help but work.  And, let’s not forget Dekker and, especially, Wilde—they are just terrific.

Overall, this is a surprisingly good film that is best seen instead of described.  Be forewarned, however, that this is rated R and has a bit of nudity and violence (especially at the end).  Now this is NOT to say it’s gratuitous—as many nude scenes are done with great taste and are not intended to titillate but forward the plot.  Well done all around and, unusual for me, there really isn’t anything I didn’t like about the film!

Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer

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