04th Aug2021

‘How to Deter a Robber’ VOD Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Vanessa Marano, Leah Lewis, Abbie Cobb, Chris Mulkey, Gabrielle Carteris, Sonny Valicenti, Jonah Ray, Benjamin Papac, Nikki Crawford, Deanna Rooney, Arnold Y. Kim | Written and Directed by Maria Bissell

There have been a number of fairly recent horror/thriller movies that have been marketed as the horror or ‘adult’ version of Home Alone. Now, Home Alone is one of my favourite movies ever and a more adult orientated version should be perfect. Unfortunately it’s not quite as simple as that and although 1989’s Deadly Games is great, nothing since has really captured that same Christmas feeling with a bit more of an edge. How To Deter A Robber is the latest movie to try.

In it, we see a young couple initially suspected of the number of burglaries in their small town. But when their own home gets robbed, they have to face off against the real criminals.

The movie does at least have a Christmassy-feel for much of it even if it does begin on Christmas Day itself and then unfold from there. We get the multi-coloured lights, the trees and of course, plenty of snow. The problem is, there’s not a whole lot of reason for it to be Christmas for this story. It’s not necessarily a problem but it felt more noticable in this movie than others I have seen.

What How To Deter A Robber does best is its comedy. It’s a dark comedy but it’s sometimes clever, sometimes very physical with its humour but always very funny. The two leads are a big reason for this and both put in fantastic performances. Vanessa Marano (Dexter) is really likable and shows good chemistry with every single member of the cast. Alongside her is Benjamin Papac, who has a little of Topher Grace about him and is even funnier. He has some great mannerisms and facials that mean he doesn’t even need to say something to make you laugh. There’s a few other really strong comedic performances, none more so than Abbie Cobb as the hapless robber. Cobb has really great delivery of her lines. Th two cops are highlights despite the short amount of screen time. Cops always get a bad wrap in genre films but it’s played on nicely here.

The experienced Chris Mulkey (Twin Peaks) kind of holds everything together nicely as the Uncle of the main female character and puts in another enjoyable performance.

It is all very funny, I laughed consistently throughout How To Deter Robber but unfortunately it’s not quite as entertaining when it’s not trying to be funny. There’s attempts at emotional moments that are really well acted and good in the moment but there’s no emotional ‘hit’ because he build-up is lacking. With it, and more thought gone into these parts of the story, How To Deter A Robber could have been great. But as this is sold as Home Alone-like, the lack of traps and big stunts is, actually, disappointing.

I do love a good snow scene though and How To Deter A Robber‘s best scene is out in the snow. I can’t talk about it too much because of spoilers but it’s beautifully shot and hits the viewer with a big surprise moment.

If How To Deter A Robber was a bit less all over the place with it’s story it could of been a Christmas classic. As it stands, it’s still a highly entertaining black comedy that is definitely not a horror Home Alone. So if you go into it without that on your mind, you’ll enjoy it much more.

*** 3/5

How To Deter A Robber is available on digital – iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Sky, Virgin, Chili, etc. – now from Blue Finch Films.


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