Two Sides to Every Hollow Face: An Interview With Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

I recently had the opportunity to speak with JuanCarlos Fresnadillo, the Director of the new feature film Intruders. After watching the movie and being more than slightly anxiety filled about every sound I heard my house, I wanted to understand more something that Fresnadillo understand very well, the mind and from where fear comes and most importantly, how to deal with it. We’ve kept the spoilers to a minimum so you can participate in a discussion the supernatural and what is to be scared.

Synopsis:

Though no one can see him, Hollow Face lurks in the corners, desperately desiring love but only knowing how to spread fear and hate. He creeps into the life of John Farrow (Clive Owen) after Farrow’s beloved 13-year-old daughter Mia (Ella Purnell) is assaulted in their home. The line between the real and the imaginary blurs as fissures start to open within the family unit. It seems that no security measure can keep Hollow Face out.

TERROR: I love what we saw in Intruders. That movie is really gonna scare people. I know that you did 28 Weeks Later which some fans consider to be superior to the original film, do you like working within the dark fantasy/horror genre?

FRESNADILLO: Yes, I really love the fantasy scenario because it allows me to use real human characters and the way that they face these supernatural elements. I feel attracted to that. I love the connection between supernatural and being human. Especially when the supernatural is a consequence of or a manifestation of being human and that is something that I develop in Intruders.

TERROR: and that definitely stands out in the film the intricate link between the human psyche and just the paranormal phenomenon in general. At first you don’t know whether it’s a ghost story or whether someone is going insane. That’s definitely a strong point for the film. That turning point when you realize which it is is a turning point in the film. It’s
a real shocker.

FRESNADILLO: You know I’m still thinking about making more movies about that because you analyze my career you realize that everything is around this; that link between fantasy and the human condition.

TERROR: Definitely. Do you consider the Intruders a horror film or is it more of a psychological thriller?

FRESNADILLO: What would you say? I would say it’s more of psychological thriller. Obviously the concept is some kind of an exploration of fear where you have to go through fear. It’s more of psychological thriller because there is a mystery in the movie which is more important than everything and the mystery is connected to a psychological
perception which is the most important thing in the story. Don’t you think so?

TERROR:  I think when I watch it I think of Brian DePalma a lot. I think of his early work
in the 70’s which is definitely psychological thriller based fiction. I think it transcends the horror genre in that it asks what is fear? What is memory? If you start asking those questions you realize we’re not talking about the run of the mill ghost in a cloak movie.

FRESNADILLO: Which I think is the most interesting subject.

TERROR: Not to say that Hollow Face isn’t ominous. He’s very scary. What was the decision to do CGI over a more practical effect approach, where you have an actor in a cloak over more computer animated effects?

FRESNADILLO: You know something if you remember the movie we really combine both techniques.  It’s a combination because of something very important.  The Spanish part of the monster is more ghostly. It’s more of an ethereal presence. And in the English story the monster is more physical and you can almost feel that there is a guy underneath. That comes that is really attached to the story if you are running  away, in terms of a perspective of time, if you are running away from your monsters the monsters become worse. There’s more danger.  The progression in the story is from the more ethereal to the physical into a more physical presence I think it’s showing you that kind of nature in your life if you don’t face those monsters at the proper time.

TERROR:  It’s true when you first see Hollow Face, the character, it’s almost animal. Like a bestial creature, pouncing like a cat and the movement is disjointed and flowing that as the story progresses it becomes more physical.

FRESNADILLO:  Obviously for a kid both appearances are really dangerous but for an adult that last one, the English one, the physical one is really really dangerous because then you can feel that the intruder is a real presence in your house. It’s all about
evolution and progression your fears. I think your fears, if you don’t solve some things in your life they are growing with you.  Then you have to face something, with time, a
huge monster if you don’t do it in the proper time frame.

TERROR: When the child faces monster it’s a very nightmarish monster. It’s less physical.
It’s interesting that when Clive Owen faces that attacker it becomes a stalker a very human presence.

Did you have to cut a lot out of the movie. I know that the MPAA can be somewhat difficult to get around to get an R rating at times. There’s some very graphic images that are very powerful images.

FRESNADILLO: But you know something, from my opinion, from my perspective I don’t think it’s an R rated movie. I think its got a wider concept. I don’t know. I understand there are some kinds of things, some concerns of the people that are looking at these things. I kind of feel that this movie could be healthy for young audiences because in a way we are showing them tools to overcome their fears.  And having the mind the human resolution of the movie, keeping in mind the story I think it’s closer to another rating. I was surprised by this R because I don’t think it’s the right thing to do with this movie.

TERROR: I was surprised as well. After watching the movie I had expected it to be a PG-13 movie, but then I saw the R rating was there something more extreme that was cut out of the film to bring it down to an R. I agree that there are things in the movie that kids can really latch onto and help kids deal with certain situations. I hope it doesn’t prevent
people from trying to see this movie. I’ve got a kid at home and I’m sure she would love to see her nightmares manifest and learning how to deal with them.

I know we’ve talked about the supernatural and ghosts. Do you believe in the supernatural? Do you feel it’s a very real presence?

FRESNADILLO: You know something I believe in the supernatural when the human being is the creator of that. Let me explain this. I really believe in the power of the brain and your mind and its ability to create presences and supernatural things. I’m sure there is a human explanation behind every human thing and every supernatural thing. I really believe in that. The power of the brain and of the mind to create things you don’t understand.

TERROR:  It sounds like if you can get that feeling on the set it could actually help
direct the actors. The feeling that it’s in their own head; it’s their own
creation.

FRESNADILLO:  Absolutely and I think it’s real when it happening you can see that as a
real thing. It’s not a hallucination. It’s happening there, but it’s created by
us but there is an explanatory connection between the presence of ghosts and
supernatural stuff.

TERROR: I think that carries over well in the context of the film. It’s effective in the film.

FRESNADILLO: Thank you so much. It was the concept you know? To show in the film how the psyche can be so powerful in our lives.

TERROR: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. I hope everything goes well with the release of Intruders. I’m sure it will. The feedback that I’m getting is that they cannot wait to see this film based on the trailer.

FRESNADILLO: Thank you so much, man

INTRUDERS will be out March 30th. Keep your eyes peeled, the lights on and face your fears head on.

Special Thanks to Sean O’Connor formly of Leema Mountain, currently a musical genius and procurer of recording equipment for the interview in a pinch.  Keep an ear out for this mad maestro. End plug.

About Jimmy Terror

Dr. Jimmy Terror, more commonly known as James P. Harris, has been “writing your eyes” shut since 2010 with his horror themed blog, Dr. Terror’s Blog of Horrors (whose name is a play on words derived from the Amicus film, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors). In the early 2000’s he fronted the band The Vaudeville Vampires, a short-lived "Horrorabilly" band which saw the creation of a catalog of horror related songs before disbanding (with only one, six song demo ever being produced and distributed). He has had only one on screen appearance to date in the horror short, Ocean Parkway, as maniacal, gloved killer with a hair fetish. Having done some un-credited, behind the scenes work in some low budget genre pictures, he is currently working on his first foray into screenwriting with a demonic, retro gore entry that pays homage to Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento as well as other Italian masters of the genre.
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  • http://Google Cheryl Ehrich

    What a ridiculous movie! A complete waste of my time watching “Hollowface”.
    It didn’t make any sense thoughout the movie and neither did the ending.

  • Adam

    amazing movie. just phenomenal, honestly. blown away by the story plot, its completely tied together all the loose ends at the end of the movie. this isnt a SPELL IT OUT movie. yes, you are required to use your brain to figure out the ending but i loved it. 4/5stars if you ask me