With Intruders, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo proves once again that he is an able director. His penultimate film was 28 Weeks Later, which is underrated in comparison to 28 Days Later, and it has a ton of genuinely great sequences. Intruders has good cinematography, good lighting, and the actors are all serviceable in their roles. However, the film never manages to become more than mediocre overall because of the shoddy plot and pacing.
The film concerns the stories of two children, both haunted by a sort of specter known as Hollowface. The stories seem, at first, besides the common factor of the faceless creature, unrelated. The main twist of the story concerns how they are related. However, it’s not much of a twist. I know that the plot kind of depends on the viewer being shocked by the discovery of what links the two children, but it’s almost painfully obvious within the first 30 minutes of the film.
Clive Owen’s middle name has to be either “Kickass” or “Robocop Jr.” He’s been a favorite of mine since Shoot ‘Em Up, a film that experienced reincarnation as one of Hulk Hogan’s many bicep layers, it was that great. Here, he plays the concerned father of a young British girl that’s being terrorized. He does pretty well in his role, though he, like many of the other actors, isn’t given much to do with his character. The young girl, Mia, played by Ella Purnell, also does pretty well, even though she doesn’t talk for the movie’s second half, having her voice stolen by Hollowface. Out of the entire cast, these are the only two that manage to make any sort of meaningful impact, and their father-daughter dynamic is handled pretty well, with Owen showing enough caring, and Purnell displaying the right amount of fear. It’s this dynamic that makes the dread work, especially when the film lags in the last stretch.
The biggest problem with Intruders is that it feels sometimes like you’re watching the same scene over and over again. Fresnadillo has a good command of the actors and shots, but the purpose behind them is severely lacking. Hollowface comes in the room. Kid freaks out. Someone fights off Hollowface. Someone may or may not have to be comforted. Scene of people talking. Hollowface comes in the room. If the character placement didn’t change, you’d just assume that you accidentally hit the rewind button, and were watching it again, hoping that Clive Owen would put two caps into Hollowface’s head. Alas, this never happens.
Hollowface joins the annals of bee stings to the non-allergic and carpet burn as one of the least deadly killers in history. With tactics that include flailing and then grabbing, he never becomes that much of a threat. This is because the writers never build him into one. He fails more times than he succeeds, and whenever he pops up, my response was usually, “Oh, faceless guy in the hoodie is here. Clive, punch him.” He is menacing in his first appearance, stalking and attacking a young boy in his bedroom, but after him repeatedly coming in and then running away, you get the feeling that Hollowface just isn’t very good at the whole “Being a Hollowface” thing. Other career prospects that might work for him include modeling hoodies and being a professional hider-in-closets. He has a pretty cool design though, and Fresnadillo uses shadows very well when displaying and framing this “monster.”
Spain has had a pretty good history when it comes to the horror output. The Devil’s Backbone, The Orphanage, and the REC franchise comes to mind when discussing this particular genre. Intruders doesn’t join these though, as it, though pretty well made, just becomes intensely plodding and repetitive by the time the third act rolls around. We’re supposed to care when the plot twist becomes “revealed,” but by then we’re just wondering how Hollowface is going to get the boot out of the house next. Here’s a spoiler: Clive Owen will probably be punching him.
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Year Released:
- 30 March 2012
- Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
- Clive Owen, Carice van Houten, Daniel Brühl, Ella Purnell, Kerry Fox, Pilar López de Ayala, Lolita Chakrabarti, and Izán Corchero
- Horror, Thriller
- Official URL:
- Intruders Official