Intruders Leaves Many Unanswered Questions

Intruders gives audiences a gruesome look into the life of an agoraphobic woman who hasn’t left her childhood home in over a decade, but remains vague on how many key plot points came to be. Failing to explain crucial elements of this otherwise gripping story might leave viewers feeling unfulfilled.

As a horror enthusiast, one of my favorite types of horror movies is home invasions with a twist. Intruders definitely delivers on that front, but leaves many unanswered questions when the credits start rolling.

After seeing the trailer, I couldn’t wait to jump into this world. The more I watched, however, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the writers forgot to tell me it takes place on an isolated plane of existence. The residents of this plane apparently never have to worry about nosey neighbors or the intervention of the law.

Intruders surpasses the suspension of disbelief most horror movies require and leaves out a lot of relevant information. I may have enjoyed the film more if it had answered these seemingly basic questions through dialogue, flashbacks, or visual examples.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the 2015 horror movie Intruders, which is streaming on Hulu.

Intruders Official Trailer 1 (2016) - Rory Culkin, Beth Riesgraf Movie HD

Plot Overview

Intruders gives viewers a gruesome look into the life of Anna (Beth Riedgraf), an agoraphobic woman living in her childhood home with her terminally ill brother, Conrad (Timothy T McKinney). Their father died ten years before the start of the movie. The only people Anna sees on a daily basis are Conrad and their food delivery man, Dan (Rory Culkin).

Anna with her terminally ill brother, Conrad

Anna with her terminally ill brother, Conrad

Dan and Anna have developed a friendship. After Conrad’s death Anna offers Dan a paper bag full of cash so Dan can start a new life. He is thrown does not accept. Anna cannot persuade herself to leave the house for Conrad’s funeral, and soon finds herself in the middle of a crime. Three men break into her house in search of the money. It turns out the men—JP (Jack Kesy), Perry (Martin Starr), and Vance (Joshua Mikel)—are the friends Dan confided in about the money.

One of many unanswered questions Intruders leaves is how Dan knows the criminals.

One of many unanswered questions Intruders leaves is how Dan knows the criminals.

After the intruders figure out that she is agoraphobic, they write her off as a non-threat and attempt their robbery as planned. However, Anna soon reveals she can control the house remotely, trapping them in the basement and eliminating the staircase. JP eventually realizes Conrad was a serial killer before he got sick and Anna frequently assisted him. Conrad’s first victim had been their father, Anna’s abuser. Their other victims were child molesters as well, showing the siblings’ pattern of reliving their father’s death under the guise of ridding the world of perverts.

After several traumatic encounters with the men, Anna sets her home ablaze and walks away. This is a powerful ending, but the story felt incomplete without acknowledging the many unanswered questions viewers are left with when the credits roll.

Anna hiding under a table from the home invaders

Anna hiding under a table from the home invaders

Why Is Charlotte So Friendly?

One of the secondary characters in this small cast was Charlotte (Leticia Jimenez), a lawyer Conrad hired to organize his affairs. She only appears in a handful of scenes, but each one further confuses her purpose.

When Charlotte first knocks on Anna’s door she introduces herself, showing the two have not previously met. Their interaction is contentious because Charlotte is asking Anna for her signature as Conrad’s next of kin and Anna does not want to think about Conrad dying. Conrad falls out of bed while Charlotte is there, and she seems too uncomfortable to help Anna get him back into bed.

One of Intruders' many unanswered questions is why Charlotte is overly friendly to Anna when they've just met.

One of Intruders’ many unanswered questions is why Charlotte is overly friendly to Anna when they’ve just met.

The second time we hear from Charlotte is in the form of friendly voicemails she leaves on Anna’s phone, encouraging Anna to attend the funeral but offering no concrete help such as a ride. Finally, she comes by toward the end of the movie to check on Anna, unaware she is dealing with home invaders. Charlotte easily buys Anna’s story excusing the broken window and leaves without concerning herself further.

From these three interactions, I find it nearly impossible to pinpoint Anna and Charlotte’s relationship. Charlotte acts like they are best friends, intimately hugging Anna and touching her face as she espouses concern, but never seems to be able to help in a useful way. Her intimacy is out of place. I wasn’t surprised when the isolated Anna does not return Charlotte’s warmth. Charlotte’s character may only exist to clumsily fill the role of caring outsider. 

Where Did the Cash Come From?

A major plot point is the cash that Anna attempts to give Dan. She unceremoniously thrusts a paper grocery bag containing thousands of dollars at him. She also implies there is a lot more somewhere else in the house. Surprised, Dan declines, and later tells his friends about the money when he can’t stop thinking about the incident. Dan’s friends decide to rob the house while Anna is at Conrad’s funeral, which sets the main events into motion. One thing they never explain is where Anna got the cash in the first place.

Anna offering Dan a bag of cash shortly after Conrad's death

Anna offering Dan a bag of cash shortly after Conrad’s death

This is one of the largest of many unanswered questions Intruders leaves because the money’s existence is the catalyst that sparks the robbery. Did Anna and Conrad cash their dad’s life insurance policy so their murder-related purchases would be untraceable? Did they collect money from their victims until they amassed a small fortune? Was Conrad’s hobby befriending neighborhood crows, leaving out nuts in exchange for the treasures they bring? The world may never know. 

A bewildered Dan declining the offer of money

A bewildered Dan declining the offer of money

Why Would Anyone Expect an Agoraphobe to Leave the House?

I don’t think any of the characters takes Anna’s agoraphobia seriously. In the first scene, Conrad invites her onto their porch to enjoy the night with him. Later on, Charlotte leaves upbeat voicemails encouraging Anna to believe in her ability to attend Conrad’s funeral instead of showing up to escort her there. The first thing Perry the intruder does when he realizes her condition is force her outside. All of the intruders take turns marveling at the panic attack this induces.

The intruders’ whole crime is based on Anna, the agoraphobe who has not left her house in ten years, leaving the house! They don’t even have a backup plan in case she is at home when they arrive. Of the many unanswered questions in Intruders, this is the most bewildering to me. No one except Anna herself seems to be aware that even a life or death situation won’t automatically fix a long-term psychiatric condition. 

Anna hiding from the three intruders who break into her home in search of cash.

Anna hiding from the three intruders who break into her home in search of cash.

What’s With the Plaid Shirt?

This is possibly the smallest unanswered question left by Intruders, but it still left me wondering. When Anna has JP and Dan trapped in the replica of her childhood bedroom, she insists that JP don a shirt from the dresser. The origin and purpose of the shirt are never revealed. I assumed it belonged to her father or one of the other men she and Conrad killed, but no one explains this.  

Home invader JP wearing the mysterious plaid shirt.

Home invader JP wearing the mysterious plaid shirt.

How Far Away Were Their Neighbors?

Intruders never shows an exterior shot of Anna’s property and viewers have no idea the proximity of her nearest neighbors. Toward the end of the movie, Anna allows JP and Dan to leave through the front door. JP drags his brother Vance’s corpse all the way to the front porch before changing his mind and going back inside for revenge. Dan reluctantly follows him back inside, leaving Vance’s body in plain view on the porch. It is dark outside, but leaving a dead body outside where a neighbor taking an early morning walk might see it still feels irresponsible.

Intruders JP and Dan trapped in a replica of Anna's childhood bedroom

Intruders JP and Dan trapped in a replica of Anna’s childhood bedroom

Is Anna Aware That Steel Doesn’t Burn?

Let’s explore the biggest unanswered question of them all. This plot hole the strongest reason I felt like this movie takes place in an alternate universe that is very similar, but not identical, to our own.

After Anna manages to escape the intruders two different times, she flicks a lighter and allows the gasoline that Perry previously poured all over the living room to set the house ablaze. She walks away from the house, symbolizing her rebirth and final severance from the location of her abuse and trauma. It’s a liberating moment, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the steel doors and basement freezers full of body parts. 

Intruders JP and Perry trapped in the basement of Anna's house

Intruders JP and Perry trapped in the basement of Anna’s house

This house is specially designed to be impenetrable. The strong, muscled intruders can’t break down the doors or walls that trap them. JP demonstrates this by attempting to break through doors or tear down walls to escape and never makes a dent. Anna is fully aware of these features and uses them to her advantage.

To be fair, they never explicitly state the material is steel, but most metals sold at the local hardware store are not combustible. This means that the frames will most likely still be standing after the fire goes out. The free-standing freezers filled with plastic-wrapped body parts will also not burn down to ash. By setting her murder house on fire, Anna is inviting an insurance investigation that I guarantee she does not want.

The biggest of many unanswered questions is how Anna expects her nearly impenetrable home to burn to ash.

The biggest of many unanswered questions is how Anna expects her nearly impenetrable home to burn to ash.

Although Intruders Leaves Many Unanswered Questions, It’s Still a Solid Film.

The real strength of Intruders is the characterization. Each character is three-dimensional and has believable motives for most of their actions. Anna and Conrad’s trauma-bonding felt very realistic, to the point that the viewer can’t quite be sure whether Anna sincerely loves her brother or just went from being controlled by their dad to being controlled by Conrad.

Anna takes control

Anna takes control

The distinct characterization of the three intruders also added a lot to the plot. JP and Vance’s relationship as brothers and Perry’s cruel fixation on murder from the beginning add depth to a group that would otherwise have been one-note. JP and Vance’s relationship almost parallels that of Anna and Conrad. Anna thinks she understands this until JP shows a complete lack of remorse at his guilt in Vance’s death.

Replica of Anna's childhood bedroom where she and Conrad tortured their victims

Replica of Anna’s childhood bedroom where she and Conrad tortured their victims

Viewers might even consider the house a character in its own right. Conrad and Anna have clearly spent a lot of time constructing and learning the layout and preparing for every eventuality. They even built a replica of Anna’s childhood bedroom so she can watch them die where her abuse took place. Anna asking JP to show her he’s sorry for his misdeeds by shooting himself is especially poignant in this setting because this is the first time she has victims without Conrad’s help. Moments like this are what made Intruders an enjoyable watch even though I finished the movie needing lots of clarification. 

I rate Intruders 6.5/10 disappearing staircases. Points lost for a plot filled with holes and brief but disturbing animal cruelty (bird). 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>