Directed by: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Starring: Clive Owen, Carice Van Houten, Daniel Brühl, Pilar López de Ayala, Ella Purnell, Izán Corchero
Release Date: July 17th on VOD, Blu-Ray, & DVD
Bonus Features: “Making of” Featurette, “Inside Look” – Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
From everything I had read about INTRUDERS, I was lead to believe it to be a film about a vicious supernatural, home invading, child stalking slasher. That, in and of itself, would’ve been interesting, but after viewing the film (more than once I might add), I found it to be so very much more.
The film follows the two families in Spain and England, both terrorized by the menacing creature known as Hollow Face. We open in Spain where a young boy Juan (Izán Corchero) is plagued by nightmares of a faceless, wraith-like creature. Following his cat out onto a fire escape, he witnesses the creature slip in through his window. Following it, Juan finds it attacking his mother and in an attempt to save her, the creature chases him resulting in a terrifying fight for survival as it grasps at him until Juan wakes up screaming. Upon waking, his mother, Luisa (Pilar López de Ayala), assures him that it was only a nightmare though the look of terror in her eyes is unmistakable. We are then introduced to construction worker John Farrow (Clive Owen), and his family in England. While he’s working on a job, his daughter Mia (Ella Purnell) and wife Susanna (Carice Van Houten) are visiting Farrow’s parents in the country. Following her cat (as Juan did in his dream), Mia finds an old wooden box hidden in the hollow of an old tree, wherein she finds an old written story of Hollow Face.
Mia rewrites the story for a school project, calling out to Hollow Face, and that’s when the nightmares begin for her and her family. The film continues to switch back and forth between the families in Spain and England as Hollow Face continues his nightmarish quest to steal the children’s faces. The parents, believing Hollow Face to be that of nightmares, try in their own way to allay their children’s fears. Juan’s mother relies on her faith while Mia’s parents try psychotherapy, but as Hollow Face exists within the space of nightmares and reality, there may be no way of stopping him.
I was incredibly disappointed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s 28 WEEKS LATER, but that had more to do with the writing than the direction which itself was admirably done. Unfortunately, the same thing happened here. From the description above, INTRUDERS sounds like it should be an interesting film with an incredibly nightmarishly interesting villain, and it was working for the first third of the film, and then the story begin to go downhill quickly into a confusing mire where it seemed the writers Nicolás Casariego and Jaime Marques weren’t quite sure where they wanted to go. There were scenes that were completely unnecessary to the plot, such as the death of one of Farrow’s co-workers falling to their deaths for example.It was as if the writers lost their footing for a while, but thankfully things began to pick back up again in the third act bringing the film back to a point where it was once again engaging (which is about as much as I can tell you without revealing any spoilers).
Fresnadillo’s direction was perhaps the best part of the film, as tends to occur with his films. Every shot seemed expertly designed to enhance the various elements of specific scenes. I particularly enjoyed his use of interesting placement another director may not have thought to use, such as the shot from inside the knot hole of the tree invoking something akin to Alice looking down the rabbit hole and the mystery beyond. It was that usage of symbology and artistic filmmaking that took what could’ve been a very badly written, incoherent (for the most part) film and gave it a dreamlike (or, rather, nightmarish) quality akin to the cinematic fairy tales of Guillermo del Toro as opposed to the genre fare one might expect from the synopsis.
Two And A Half Out Of Five Skulls