Intruders is the latest horror-mystery from “visionary” director Juan Carlos Fresnedillo, who has also brought us Intacto, 28 Weeks Later, and the upcoming Highlander reboot. When I say horror-mystery, I mean Intruders is one of those horror films that builds up its own unique mythology by revealing bits of information along the way, and builds to a big conclusion at the end which answers all the questions the viewers have been asking throughout. In that sense, I’d say Intruders is on the very tail end of the post-Sixth Sense era.
Two alternating stories are happening over the course of the film, one in England, with Clive Owen and his daughter being menaced by a ghostly creature known as Hollow Face. The other story is taking place in Spain, where a young boy and his mother are also being plagued by this very same boogeyman. In both instances, part of the fun of the scares is first seeing a child become frightened, and then gradually seeing the adults also get drawn in to the horror as they too begin to see and experience Hollow Face.
One of my favorite things in a horror movie is when the suspense and mystery build appropriately along with the mythology of the story. I really enjoyed the first two acts of Intruders because it gives you goosebumps and keeps you guessing; alternatingly. Who is Hollow Face? What do these two stories in Spain and London have in common? If the adults can see Hollow Face, does that mean he is real?
There is also a neat and insightful bit of spiritual insight in Intruders. As the young boy in Spain is increasingly haunted by Hollow Face, his mother turns to the Catholic Church and a kindly young priest tries to help with the power of God. But, the family in London seeks out the help of psychiatry. It is neat to see the different cultures respond to crises with varying degrees of reliance on God and spirituality. Although Intruders makes sure that neither God nor Science can ultimately provide the solution to our haunted-kid problem. I think this comes more from the need to wrap things up tidily than it does because of any real exploration of spirituality, however.
While Intruders explores some neat ideas and offers some cool scares with a monster that utilizes dark closets and faceless human shapes straight out of our childhood nightmare-fantasies, its need to explain itself and wrap itself up proves to be its undoing.
I honestly don’t believe the third act conclusion to the story makes very much sense at all. Yes, the viewers will learn who Hollow Face is and why he is haunting these families. But no, it will not be a satisfactory conclusion.
Fresnadillo explores some interesting ideas, and brings out a few shivers of fear as well. But as the tension builds, the conclusion collapses under its own weight. There is a little too much gimmick and set up involved with this story to allow it to ring true in the end. And yet this film works much better than many bottom of the barrel horror flicks that come along. Fresnadillo has talents, and I look forward to seeing what he can do with Highlander. But maybe studios should be a little more cautious in their use of the tag “visionary.” Let’s see a few more films from Fresnadillo before we bestow that title on him!
Intruders has a pretty computerized look to it which hits and misses a little too often for me. Hollow Face’s design, at times, looked pretty cool. At other times he looked a bit like a Nintendo 64 game. So the high definition disc didn’t do a whole lot for me on this film, ultimately. It is just so dark and computerized that I didn’t notice the cinematography very much.
The disc also comes with a couple of behind the scenes featurettes that are pretty good. Brief, insightful, but not earth shattering.
Intruders is a very middle of the road release. You could do a lot worse, but I’d recommend a Guillermo Del Toro film, or The Orphanage, if you want some Latin-flavored and masterful horror.