The fear of the unknown. We all have them. Whether we were kids, teens or even as adults, most of us have something in the back of our minds that may make us cringe; there is just something really fearful when it comes to encountering something we cannot understand and comprehend. “Intruders” is one such movie that seeks to channel that inner fear of something unknown, we cannot understand and even leave many questions unanswered. After all, the paranormal and the supernatural often defy logic and scientific evaluation.
The film begins when a young boy, Juan (Iza Corchero) living in Spain with his mother, Luisa (Pilar Lopez De Ayala) where he writes down the details of his nightmares as they are seemingly being haunted by a strange being that he had come to call as “Hollow Face”; a creature that seeks to steal his face to make it its own. Luisa is very concerned with her kid and tries to grasp the roots of his fears that she even sought out the aid of her parish priest. While thousands of miles away in England, a young girl named Mia (Ella Purnell) comes across a piece of paper and passes off the ghost story written on it as her own. Now, Mia appears to be tormented by an entity similar to the one tormenting Juan in Spain, as her father, John (Clive Owen) and her mother, Susanna (Carice Van Houten) become trapped in the middle of it. But is this haunting real, is it ethereal, is it physical or is it something much more sinister?
Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo makes a return to filmmaking after several years since his “28 Weeks Later”. “Intruders” is a slick, atmospheric and mind numbing horror thriller whose strengths lie in the manner of the way it is structured. There is something different with the way the direction and the screenplay melded its two tales of the unknown. There are hints of foreshadowing, but it never played its aces too soon. The two stories in two different continents taking place are similar, and I enjoyed the manner by which the movie moved about its premise to come out with one cohesive and engaging whole. I know we’ve seen similar stories of this kind many times before, but this time, it shows as to the ‘how’ things are, rather than ‘what’.
The film manages to play out its strengths and even uses a clever back story that gives some answers. I know it could’ve been just one of those stories about something that lurks in darkness and goes bump in the night, but the way the story comes across is just something much more satisfying. I am trying not to spoil anything here, but I guess it would be obvious that the two stories would somehow be intertwined and related. It wasn’t so much as this detail was surprising, but rather how the screenplay manages to engage with the two stories. We also get to have a look as to how different people from different cultures can see and deal with terror, as if it takes a look at the old world and the new modern world. Luisa and Juan appears to be more willing to accept the supernatural while Mia and John do try for a more logical answer and takes steps to rectify their situation.
It also helps when the performances are excellent. Corchero stole the show as a young boy being tormented by something he does not understand. He was convincing as the young, scared boy trying to make his mother understand what was happening to him. Ayala matches Corchero play by play and the two came out with terrific performances that they were able to gain my sympathy easily. On the other side, Owen comes out with his own reliable performance and Purnell is just as convincing as Mia. She was able to express the necessary emotions that appear ‘out of character’ and managed to connect with her viewers.
On the visual side, the film is quite capable of delivering the right atmosphere and plays on the shadows to generate some disquieting fear. The colors took the tone of earth colors, while some scenes appear muted with the colors restrained, the direction was commendable in delivering the proper somber mood into the film. True, the film does appear to slow down a little on some areas, but it was mostly because of its many layers that it may be good to watch it more than once. The film is more on the creepy side and channels its layers to immerse its viewer. This is a horror movie with no blood and gore (with one scene of nudity and sex), but rather allows its character and story to drive its pace. It has some visual effects but it came out rather subtle. It was refreshing to see a horror film not rely on overused special effects for change in this modern age.
“Intruders” is one horror thriller that gets a lot of things right and is worth a look for the die-hard horror fan. It has the right look, atmosphere and style that it was incredibly successful in generating that creepy and eerie atmosphere, and with some symbolisms thrown in, the film comes out as more complex than it actually appears to be. It is the kind of horror film that leaves a lot of things undefined, and leaves it up to the viewer to put together. Yes, it does have a few flaws, and it may even frustrate some viewers, as those who are unfamiliar with the legends of the “hooded man” (sometimes called as the ‘shadow man’ in some cultures) may find themselves grasping at straws. I believe in the supernatural and I am familiar with its many legends, perhaps this was why I easily connected to the film’s intentions.
Star Rating: The perpetually frightening atmosphere of Intruders is continuously challenged and ultimately defeated by a confusing structure, gaps in logic, and a twist ending that raises more questions than it answers. Before we know the real secret of the film, we must blindly work our way through a plot that repeatedly blurs the line between reality, dreamscape, and pure fantasy. When the secret is revealed, we’re somewhat disillusioned, as it forces … more