Posted April 7, 2012 by in


Total Score

2/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: horror
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
MPAA Rating: R
Actors: Clive Owen, Carice van Houten, Izán Corchero
Length: 100 minutes
Release Date: 03/30/2012
Studio: Antena 3 Films, Apaches Entertainment, Canal+ España, Ministerio de Cultura, Universal Pictures International (UPI)
What We Thought

A superb atmospheric thriller ruined by a plot twist.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Juan, a child who writes fairy tales with his mother, steps through his window into the raining night to retrieve his pet cat, when he sees a hooded figure go through his window into his home.  Inside the apartment, his mother screams.  He runs back in, and watches in horror as the entity strangles his mother.  He screams for it to stop.  A struggle ensues, and the creature disappears—for now.  From that day on, he has nightmares about the encounter.
      Mia, a young British girl at that delicate stage between childhood and young-adulthood, discovers a box hidden in the hollow of a tree.  In the box is an old piece of paper, which details the story of Hollow-Face, the same creature that torments Juan.  She begins to write about Hollow-Face herself, and soon enough, she has nightmares about Hollow-Face as well.  Her loving father John (Clive Owen) tries to help her cope with the dreams, but then one night, Hollow-Face appears before Mia—and her father can see him as well.
     Intruders exploits our innate fears.  Fear of the dark, of confined spaces like closets, hallways, and alleys, where shadows conceal lurking threats.  Fear of the night and unnatural creatures beyond our understanding.  Intruders is atmospheric, a thriller both supernatural and psychological, that builds suspense by investing us in the characters.  In Mia, we find a character yearning for maturity, yet still innocent and vulnerable; and in her father, a man who loves her and would do anything to keep her safe, but is powerless against a supernatural menace who intends to steal her very being.  Hollow-Face hides in her closet, and gets closer, and closer…
     …and then a twist in the third act sends the film sprawling into a Shyamalan anti-climax, bankrupting all the investment in the story and characters, replacing suspense with sentimentality, and cheating the ending out of meaningful resolution.  If Intruders were a worse film, where the story is an excuse for jump scares, blood and gore, I wouldn’t mind.  But Intruders is built on story and characters, a story about storytelling that doesn’t have a basic grasp of the rules.
     Which means there’s no reason not to spare it the nitpicking that lesser films deserve.  When Intruders shows violence to payoff the suspenseful buildup of a given scene, it’s of the shaky-cam quick-cut style that’s becoming a world-wide phenomenon, but with a twist; Intruders goes for a dark, underexposed look, which further obscures the action.  If this were a good film, one would ignore blemishes like the fact that problems could be solved if someone would simply turn on an overhead light, but they don’t, because lighting from lamps is spookier.  Alas, this film deserves no such mercy.
     Intruders goes for ambiguity late in the story, but leaves no room for interpretation by film’s end.  Intrudersunderscores the importance of endings in story-based films; a good ending can save a weak film, but a poor ending can damn a good one.  This film is the latter type, and it’s a damn shame.


About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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