Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Intruders (2011): Review

Intruders is a 2011 psychological horror film. Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) and starring Clive Owen (Children of Men), the film is a British/Spanish co-production with English subtitles for the Spanish language portions.

The film follows two parallel storylines, one involving a young girl named Mia and her father John (Owen) based in London and the other following a young boy named Juan growing up in Madrid. They both revolve around the children being haunted by a phantom called "Hollowface" who invades their bedrooms at night. The film opens with a dramatic rainy sequence in Spain where Hollowface comes to visit Juan and then shifts to England, where after discovering a ghost story hidden in a tree, Mia starts to see the same ghoul. The story shifts back and forth in this way until the dramatic truth is revealed about Hollowface's origins and the link between the two timelines.

I was a huge fan of Fresnadillo's 28 Weeks Later (2007) and was expecting big things from his next project, Intruders shows that same potential but eventually let me down. The direction can't be faulted, Intruders is a stylish and beautiful film to look at however it does seem to be a case of style over substance. The split timeline is a great concept and it does a great job of keeping the pace and making the film more interesting than it has any right to be but the central premise is flawed. The back story of Hollowface is set up in a fairytale style and the film centres around children but Owen seems intent on dropping F-bombs at every opportunity. This really comes off as a confused film, not knowing whether it wants to be a horror film or a twisted fairytale in the style of Pan's Labyrinth (2006).

It's even more of a shame that the plot is all over the place considering there are really strong performances from Clive Owen and Ella Purnell (Mia), creating a believable father-daughter relationship. Actually it's unclear as to whether Owen is really acting or just being himself but his delivery of the dialogue feels really natural and he carries the film as the male lead. The sequences involving Hollowface are scary and atmospheric but personally I had a problem with the special effects. In an age where every type of creature or monster has already been created this film opts to simply have a hooded figure with a lack of a face. Whilst perhaps an attempt to return to a simpler era of shadows and ghosts, this comes across as bland and lazy and made it difficult to invest in the monster.

Intruders is an interesting attempt to blend fairytale, ghost stories and home invasion conventions, however it ends up as a bit of a shambles and the payoff feels a little bit cheap. There are certainly good performances and Fresnadillo is very adapt at creating a stylish and atmospheric film, unfortunately the end result is a horror movie as bland and hollow as it's antagonist.

3 Stars ***

What did you think of Intruders? Would you like to see more international co-productions?

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read anything good about this one. A shame, I had high hopes. And like you I really liked Fresnadillo's work in 28 Weeks Later.