An excerpt from Reals’ script review for Intruders (aka Shut In) which will be available 03/27/23:
Hello, everyone! Today I’m looking at a script titled Shut In, though some of you horror fans out there may know it as 2015’s Intruders.
The logline reads as such (per IMDB): Anna suffers from agoraphobia so crippling that when a trio of criminals break into her house, she cannot bring herself to flee. But what the intruders don’t realize is that agoraphobia is not her only problem.
Before we get into it, since 2015, we have seen a number of films use this exact premise to varying degrees of success. The ones the come to mind right off the bat are:
Don’t Breathe (2016) – Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn’t as helpless as he seems.
Villains (2019) – After a pair of amateur criminals break into a suburban home, they stumble upon a dark secret that two sadistic homeowners will do anything to keep from getting out.
That is not to say anything negative about this script (or the others listed, for that matter) but to show you examples of the old Hollywood saying: Give me the same, but different.
The concept of someone breaking into a home only to discover something horrifying they were not expecting is not new.
In fact, here is a logline for 1991’s The People Under the Stairs – Two adults and a juvenile break into a house occupied by a brother and sister and their stolen children. There, they must fight for their lives.
As you can see, this is a popular concept that has been explored in various ways in the past. So, you may want to consider putting your own spin on the home-invader-turned-victim concept and pitching that around to see if you can drum up some interest.
And, if you’re interested in checking out the film version of Intruders, you can find it available in loads of places (at the time of this writing) including Tubi, Hulu, Vudu, and Amazon Prime Video.
Now, let’s get into the review!
Strong First Page – I liked that the entire first page has no dialogue and the action description left plenty of white space.
Atmosphere – Though I do think the introduction goes on far too long with far too little happening, it does a good job of building up a lonely atmosphere in the house that Anna is trapped in.
However, I believe the writers could have gotten to this point much more quickly.
I would recommend starting the story on the bottom of Page 16 – after Conrad has passed away and Anna can’t leave the house for his funeral.
After this, there is a nice moment when Charlotte hands Anna a phone and says that she can still attend the funeral, even if Anna can’t leave the house.
This scene tells us everything we needed to know: Anna has lost someone, she is agoraphobic, and she has some friends, but is mainly alone in the house.
Then, we could quickly introduce Dan (another important character) after the funeral when he comes to check on Anna.
Contained – We are in one house for almost the entire script, which is a commendable feat. Pay specific attention to how the writers keep the action moving and keep everything focused on the one location as the story progresses.
Anna’s “Escape” – I liked the scene on Page 26 when Anna is running away from Perry and gets to the wide open front door and then… stops dead in her tracks.
This was a nice visual scene that showed us Anna’s limits – she cannot force herself to go outside, even when she is in mortal danger.
The Cockatiel Scene – It was a funny moment when Perry tries to let the cockatiel go, only for it to attack him and then land back inside the house.
I would warn you off of writing a scene like this, however, as it will mean that your production is going to have to either find a live, trained bird, or get creative with models and CGI.
Anna Describes Her Situation – I liked the scene on Page 76 when Anna tells Charlotte what is going on:
Anna — are you hurt? Tell me what’s going on.
Some men are here. They came to rob us. But it’s not ‘us’ anymore, is it? It’s just me. Some men came to rob me.
The way she describes the robbery is so matter-of-fact that it is almost funny.
Moments like this give your character personality and make them pop off the page. Anna could have used more moments like this early, as she comes off as very robotic and stiff for a majority of the script.
In fact, it is not until Page 79 that I really started to see Anna come together as a character, which is far too late to be effective.
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