HOME INVASION is a documentary (or essay film) about the evolution of the doorbell. Well, as a starting point, anyway. It’s also about our fear of outsiders and how surveillance can worsen this fear. Screening at Fantasia 2023. Read our full Home Invasion documentary review here!
HOME INVASION is a documentary that could easily be described as an experimental essay film. And it is, but not in any way that should deter anyone from watching it. There are other reasons why viewers may ultimately get fed up with the subject, but it isn’t the experimental style of showing everything as viewed through a peephole (or a doorbell cam).
The topic of home invasions has been a focus of horror movies for decades. The same goes for the feeling of being watching or feeling like someone is after you. Also, throughout the documentary, you’ll see many examples as clips from many horror movies are used.
Continue reading our Home Invasion documentary review below. The film is screening at Fantasia 2023.
The evolution of the doorbell
In many ways, Home Invasion is about the evolution of the doorbell. However, this evolution is ultimately described in a somewhat backward way. We begin with how the modern doorbell (aka Ring, the doorbell camera) evolved into the surveillance device it is now.
The very final chapter of this documentary is about the invention of the doorbell.
In between these two versions of a doorbell, we see lots of doorbell camera footage and clips from horror movies. All focusing on our need to protect ourselves and keep the outside world from coming into our homes.
Everything is accompanied by written storytelling (rather than a narrator) and it works surprisingly well. I say surprising because I didn’t expect a movie that takes up less than half of the screen to work this well. The peephole POV [Point of View] is something you get used to very quickly. And you grow equally accustomed to reading the story told via these images.
The more you know, the more you fear
The history of the doorbell and all of its reinventions is a fascinating evolution to witness in this manner.
The inclusion of the 19th-century labor struggles does result in this story and evolution going back a tad too far. I get the whole complete circle idea, but it does get very one-sided. A critique of capitalism is always relevant in this day and age. Even more so right now during the writers and actors strike (WGA and SAG) currently taking place in the US.
However, most efficient documentaries make sure to include more details and facts. Here everything included was only pointing toward one message.
Even though I can ideologically agree with much of it, it became too hamfisted and I can imagine those that don’t agree will see it as propaganda. And they wouldn’t be wrong. A shame as it wouldn’t need too many tweaks to be able to speak to a much wider audience – and keep them engaged and open to the messaging.
Home Invasion at Fantasia 2023
Documentary filmmaker Graeme Arnfield has created a fascinating experimental essay feature film using narrative cinema. I loved parts of it, but it doesn’t stop in time for it to be great. That takes nothing away from it as a fascinating story, so you should still absolutely check it out when you get the chance.
As a documentary, this worked really well for the most part. However, the political aspect and the heavy-handed pivot to include even more stories connected (ultimately) to the invention of the doorbell, became too much. Capitalism and the industrial revolution have plenty of victims, but it is also a part of progress. Desperately flawed and part of many (if not most) of the problems the world face today, but still.
Focusing solely on the negatives is completely negating the fact that you wouldn’t even be able to make a movie today without either.
Home Invasion is currently screening at Fantasia 2023.
A nightmarish essay film on the history of the doorbell, tracing its invention and constant reinventions through 19th century labor struggles, the nascent years of narrative cinema, and contemporary surveillance cultures.