Alarmed (2023) Review
Alarmed is the latest original film from the streaming service Tubi. Regular readers may have noticed it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed one of those, and there’s a simple reason for that. Apart from Terror Train 2, which went to a different service here, they haven’t done anything that caught my attention lately. This sounded like it could be a decent home invasion thriller, so I gave it a look.
Janet (Brittany Baker, The God of Death, An Acceptable Loss) and Sean (Pooch Hall, Ray Donovan: The Movie, But Deliver Us from Evil) are having marital issues. The fact their son Billy (Chris Whitcomb, Burial Ground Massacre, Pitching Tents) got busted for hacking some government networks and is back living with them 24/7 while he serves a sentence under house arrest isn’t helping matters.
They decide they need some time to themselves and plan a weekend getaway. And it might be their last opportunity for a while, Janet has just been promoted to CEO of Citadel Security, makers of high-tech security systems. Like the one in their home.
Writer/director Matthew Kohnen (Aaah! Zombies!!, The Funeral Guest) starts Alarmed off on a low-key, almost comedic note. We see father and son accidentally locking themselves out of the house and tripping the alarm getting back in. Going for a run, with Billy on a hoverboard, etc. If it wasn’t for a brief shot of someone planting a tracker on Janet’s car while she was at work you could easily think the film had been mislabeled.
The stereotypical characters don’t help either. Billy is the nerdy hacker who can get into Department of Defence computers but can’t get women to notice him. Sean is the ex-jock turned family man unemployed and struggling to be a househusband. He’s more concerned that his son is still a virgin than by his hacking activities. And Janet is a hard-working businesswoman who’s trying to hold it all together while still bringing too much of her work home with her. Sounds like a sitcom doesn’t it?
That changes when mom and dad see intruders Andrew (Eric Lutes, The Manor, Vault), Coltrane (David Gere, The Assault, Tales from the Other Side), Martinez (Brendan Kelleher, Attack by Fire: Rivals, Justice for Chau) and Foggy (Salvatore DelGreco, Finders Keepers, Black Wake) breaking into their house on their security system’s app. They attack Billy and shoot Kat (Angie Campbell, The Wanking Dead, Scotch Tension) the girl he invited over. Janet and Sean are told that, in return for Billy’s safety, they just need to do one thing, kill Janet’s boss Larry ( Eric Allan Kramer, Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel, Flying By).
Alarmed mixes some nicely done and suspenseful scenes with moments of absolute stupidity that made me want to throw something at the screen. Told not to call the cops, Janet and Sean have two of their friends sneak into the house to try and rescue Billy. You can guess how that works out. Janet has a device to scan for trackers or listening devices. She scans herself, Sean and their phones, but not the most obvious place to hide one, their car.
Thankfully the script does enough right to keep Alarmed interesting even if it doesn’t consistently maintain the tension you expect from a film like this. There are too many familiar plot tropes and moments where the script loses focus or relies on convenient coincidences to advance itself. The result is a lightweight thriller that, at times, comes close to Lifetime territory but still managed to keep me watching. Given the price, it’s worth a watch if you’re not feeling fussy.