Gabrielle Union Billy Burke Richard Cabral Ajiona Alexus
Levi Meaden Mark Furze Jason George Seth Karr
Picture a large house out in the woods with acreage around it. That’s where Shaun (Union) grew up, and now that her father has died (they have been estranged, so she hasn’t been home in years), she is responsible for selling it. Neither she nor her two kids are happy about giving up a weekend at home, and when they arrive at the house, it’s a bit creepy with its electronic gadgets and high tech security system (alarms, cameras, lights—all connected to a monitoring station. You would think they would get a feeling of safety—which was the idea of having it installed—but the house is a bit creaky, and son Glover’s (Karr) association to it is one of loneliness. His sister Jasmine (Alexus) is relieved that she has cell phone service “way out here.”
Shaun is trying to adjust to feelings brought up by her childhood home, and just wants to get everything settled and get back to husband and hearth.
Intruders weren’t on the agenda, of course, but soon after the family arrives, there they are. The first one, Eddie (Burke) moves stealthily and comes upon the kids, then goes out to the patio looking for their mother. What follows is a cats and mice game in and out of the house with harrowing twists and turns. The rewarding part, of course, is the fact that the mother is not your stereotypical “mom”; Shaun is clearly up to the crime team in wits and daring. And although the film publicity plays up the mom-doing-everything-to-protect-her-young, I think winning—along with morality—is built into her character. She will do what she does primarily to protect her children, but it goes farther than that into assuring that justice will be done.
Gabrielle Union is stunning in the role, including fitness that allows her to jump across fences, run into the woods with agility, and be a worthy opponent in a physical fight. She is good as well in her role as mom and wife, but with a past that weighs her down from time to time. This event is only one instance of that.
I think the four “bad guys” roles are well cast with a leader (Meaden) trying to contain his crew, especially Duncan (Cabral), the most deranged, and Peter (Furze), the most bothered by limits that have been crossed. Eddie (Burke), with a critical role in the operation, has been missing most of the time, thanks to an encounter in the woods with Shaun.
Breaking In is well written by Ryan Engle and directed by James McTeigue. Their characters are plausible and behave in ways that are within the realm of believability. The scare factor is maintained pretty much throughout, in a what’s-going-to-happen-next mode. I spotted just a few times when credulity was strained, i.e., when Shaun was talking to her daughter in loud whispers that the bad guys were sure to hear, and when she didn’t take the children and run when it looked like she could have.
Otherwise, for a horror film, I was moved and carried along by the drama.
This film will thrill you and chill you in its play on electronically “safe” houses.