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A Puzzling Mixture of History and Technology

Home Invasion


Genre: Experimental Documentary
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 30m
Director(s): Graeme Arnfield
Where To Watch: showing at the Film Maudit 2.0: Film Festival

RAVING REVIEW: HOME INVASION ambitiously attempts to thread through the dense fabric of surveillance technology's impact on society using only on-screen text and the visual representation of video doorbell footage through a fish-eye lens. This decision proves more isolating than innovative. The film’s execution struggles to engage and trips over presentation, making what could have been a profound commentary into a laborious watch.

HOME INVASION leaps into the complex world of surveillance with a premise that could have sparked much-needed discourse on privacy and technology. Instead of traditional documentary techniques that help clarify such a hefty topic, the film opts for a text-based narrative over a montage of disjointed clips. This bold choice muddies the message rather than illuminating the intended themes of surveillance's societal impact.

From the outset, the film promises to delve into the historical roots and contemporary ramifications. Yet, as it progresses, the absence of a clear narrative voice leaves the storyline feeling fragmented. The reliance on text to convey complex historical and technological shifts results in a viewing experience that is more tiresome than educational. The segments intended to critique our self-monitoring society are lost in a sea of abstract concepts, presented without the context to anchor them meaningfully. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I know what the team was going for, but the final piece's distractions were too much to overcome.

The director's use of a peephole as a visual motif is intended to evoke the invasive nature of surveillance. However, this creative decision quickly wears thin, serving more as a distraction than a compelling narrative device. The film’s stylistic choices, from its overuse of text to the cumbersome integration of archival footage, make it challenging to follow and connect with the material on an emotional level. These unique features would have better served the film as interludes to a standard documentary.

Despite its thematic relevance, HOME INVASION's dialogue—solely via on-screen text loses its intensity. This approach dampens the potential emotional impact and makes the subject matter less accessible to viewers. The lack of human voices or interviews strips away a layer of engagement critical in documentary filmmaking, leaving the narrative cold and academic. This method, meant to be avant-garde, inadvertently creates a barrier between the film and its audience, turning what could have been a gripping exploration into a tedious read. I’m all for artistic interpretations, but this was too much for a feature-length film.

Moreover, the documentary's effort to link historical resistance movements to modern-day surveillance anxieties struggled to get its point across clearly. These parallels are drawn too hastily, needing more depth to engage the audience or offer new insights. The film attempts to cover too much ground without providing the viewer with a coherent path through its labyrinth of ideas.

In essence, HOME INVASION is a documentary that gets lost in its experimental format. It attempts to tackle a timely and critical topic but delivers a scattered and superficial exploration. The film’s ambitious blend of history, technology, and societal critique is undermined by its execution, which alienates rather than educates. And its overreliance on movie clips throughout history shows what could have been cut from the film.

In conclusion, HOME INVASION is a clear example of when ambition outpaces execution. The film, striving to innovate by eschewing conventional documentary storytelling, fails to deliver a compelling or coherent narrative. It serves as a cautionary tale of how trying to revolutionize the documentary style can lead to a product that is difficult to digest and leaves the audience more bewildered than informed. The film’s exploration of surveillance, rather than acting as a revealing lens into society, obscures any meaningful dialogue it might have inspired about the technologies that watch over us.

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[photo courtesy of SQUARE EYES FILM]

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Chris Jones
Entertainment Editor

Chris Jones is the Mail Entertainment Editor covering Movies and Television topics. He is from Washington, Illinois, and is the owner, writer, and editor of Overly Honest Reviews.