- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Millenium Entertainment
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
uan Carlos Fresnadillo’s “Intruders” is one of the most frustrating horror-thrillers in recent years, because while the initial setup boasts a lot of potential, it's executed so poorly that the movie comes off looking more inept than it really is. Although it seemed like it might be a relatively creepy film based on the disturbing posters featuring star Clive Owen without a face, Fresnadillo crams so many different genre tropes into the story that it's hard to figure out whether he's trying to make a straight-up horror movie, a psychological thriller or a supernatural fairy tale. In the end, "Intruders" is a tame mixture of all three, only without any of the scares or suspense you'd normally expect.
Partially set in suburban London, the film stars Owen as John Farrow, the father of a young girl (Ella Purnel) who believes that she’s being stalked by a faceless bogeyman known as Hollowface that literally wants to steal her face to use as his own. Though John brushes her fears aside as a simple nightmare at first, he quickly becomes a believer when he witnesses the menacing figure trying to abduct his daughter from her bedroom later that night. Meanwhile, over in Spain, a young boy named Juan (Izán Corchero) is experiencing the same terrifying visions, prompting his single mother (Pilar López de Ayala) to seek out the advice of their local priest (Daniel Brühl) after she begins to fear that her son might actually be demonically possessed.
“Intruders” has all the makings of a really effective horror-thriller, but while the first act does a good job of setting up the parallel stories and building tension, it gets stuck in a repetitive loop that alternates between London and Spain as the children are repeatedly stalked by Hollowface to little effect. Although there’s an interesting discussion to be had about how differently the two parents deal with the problem – John takes Mia to see a psychiatrist, while Juan’s mother goes the more religious route – there’s never any feeling that the characters are in actual danger, no matter how frightening Fresnadillo thinks his villain may be. It’s one of those instances where the idea probably sounded a whole lot scarier on paper, because Hollowface doesn't incite much fear on the screen.
Where the film really drops the ball, however, is during the final act, which is dragged down by a flimsy twist ending that is not only predictable, but so ridiculously contrived that it seems like Fresnadillo is just making things up as he goes along. Neither story has enough substance to exist on its own, and because the audience knows they're somehow connected from the beginning, it's easy to lose interest while waiting for the fractured narratives to finally cross paths. Though “Intruders” is an admirable attempt at creating an original piece of horror, when that’s the best praise you can give to a movie with such a promising premise, how could it be anything other than a disappointment?
Single-Disc Blu-ray Review:
The Blu-ray release of "Intruders" is just as lackluster as the movie itself. Although the behind-the-scenes featurette "Who is Hollowface?" offers some insightful interviews from the cast and crew about making the film, the subtitles are so poorly translated that it's hard to follow at times. There's also another featurette that isn't nearly as interesting and should have been scrapped in favor of a director commentary or something better.