Intruders directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo will be released on March 30th. At that time you will have to ask yourself what is scarier, your own mind or the reality in which you are immersed every day? Fresnadillo provides this challenge be weaving a clever tale of two children, the horrifying visitor, Hollow Face, and their loved ones who will do anything to protect them. Is this a movie that you need to rush out to see? The survey says, “yes”.
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.
Intruders doesn’t exactly qualify as a horror flick. Anyone who knows me knows that I gorge myself on the genre nightly and rarely get to watch anything out. Some would say it doesn’t lead to a well rounded life. I would point people who say that to my waist line. Never the less this movie truly does crawl along the boundary and plays out as a psychological thriller. I’ve not been a fan of using that term because it evokes feelings of horror being snubbed at the Academy Awards under the guise of a misclassification (Hello Clarisse). Without giving away too much, the film has more in common with a study in fear than it does with having the shit scared out of you by a giant monster. I found myself comparing this movie to some early DePalma flicks. I expected to see split screens and Michael Caine dressed up as a femme. It’s just a feeling; like Fresnadillo is playing with our mind and conception of reality. You might compare it to a Guillermo Del Toro with its focus on a children and the reliance on the ordinary becoming anything but.
You have a cohesive story that holds up and only fails when your mind fails to suspend its disbelief long enough to recognize that, hey, you’re watching a movie. There are elements of fantasy here, dark fantasy, but if you’re not in the mood for an adult movie that might play out like a fairy tale with its head cut off, you may want to stay home. Speaking of it being a very adult movie, with the exception of a nude scene I found it strange that this received an R rating. Those who read me regularly know that I do not support the MPAA in their classification methods. That is to say, that I think the benefit of a film to a slightly younger audience might outweigh the MPAA’s need to uphold its Puritanical dogma. This film is meant for kids and adults, something touched upon in my recent quick interview with Intruder’s director available HERE. Screen it and then figure out if you think your kids are ready for this picture. I’d like to think it could actually help them identify their fears or at least start a meaningful dialogue. With that being said I’ll put the soap box and middle finger away.
Is Hollow Face everything you expect from the faceless shroud you see painted ever so delicately in the preview? There’s no definitive answer. I was not taken with the computer graphics used in the film but just fine when practical effects were used instead. That’s par for the course when it comes to me and the much dreaded CGI. I think fans of computer graphic character design will find these effects to be a bit dated. There are recent video game releases that trump Hollow Face’s design. What you’ll enjoy is the wild animal, pouncing like a cat movement afforded by the computer. I for one think you could find an agile actor to perform the same stunts and maybe there are sequences where practical and computer have been homogenized so well that I’m simply picking on the graphic artists. With so much buzz surrounding a new villain I expect more. I expect personality from even without facial expression to illustrate it.
The cast is stellar. Clive Owen plays a caring father looking out for this daughter and trying to protect her from the evil that threatens her. His performance is genuine. His eyes, caring. His anger is intense. I expect nothing less from the Children of Men, Sin City star. Carice van Houten gives a stellar performance as well. It’s lovely to see Izan Cochero and Ella Purnell step up to the plate in impressive performances for child actors, especially with such spooky subject matter. What I found particularly enthralling about their performances was their ability to evoke such a strong sense of recollection in myself as to what it is like to be a child, afraid and perhaps in danger for my life. There are plenty of older actors who can’t evoke this sense of empathy in me. Daniel Bruhl shows up… remember him from Inglorious Basterds?
I do not write spoiler filled reviews, so I won’t be discussing the climax of the film. I will let you know that it’s not all as it seems and that you’ll have to look just a bit deeper to understand how these children are plagued and what remedy might be found to solve it. I found myself chanting, under my breath “1, 2 Freddy’s coming for you” and had visions of Heather Langenkamp floating through my head. This gives nothing away, but I hope you remember that I said that once you’ve had a chance to enjoy the movie.
I didn’t get to screen Intruders in a movie theater. I’m seldom offered such a grand distinction, but this one might be just as good in the confines of your own bedroom late in the evening. This is how I might approach Intruders. See it theatrically if you are at all able to. I’m not certain as to the wideness of the release or how long it will stay in theaters. I’m not sure that populace will find mass appeal in this somewhat under marketed half Spanish, half English production. It has all the hallmarks of a Guillermo del Toro film, so it might reach a wider audience. After you do or do not see it in theater, rent or purchase it when it comes out on DVD and watch it again. This time do it in the confines of your bedroom, late in the evening, kids asleep, house creaking as houses often do, closet ajar… you tell me that you don’t feel the slightest bit of anxiety when you hear the house settle. I was up half the night thinking that someone might just have made their way in the house, past the guard dog (hardly) and right outside my bedroom door. I don’t scare easily, but if you have little ones at home, you’ll check on them a couple times with baseball bat in hand.