Dir. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Written by Nicolás Casariego, Jaime Marques
Starring Clive Owen, Carice Van Houten, Daniel Bruhl, Ella Purnell
INTRUDERS is a gorgeously photographed, cleverly written, well acted, classically produced horror film from one of the most promising directors out there right now. It looks beautiful, and it has a unique construction following two families in two different countries as they deal with a shadowy, hooded phantasm named “Hollow Face.” Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo directed the excellent, crazy INTACTO and directed what I consider to be one of the best single horror sequences in recent memory (albeit in a movie which was only OK) with the opening of 28 WEEKS LATER. Since then, he seems to have been on the list of possible directors for just about every major project Hollywood can snatch up, but in the meantime he did this. A sumptuously photographed psychological horror story starring Clive Owens, which in theory is about the best you could possibly hope for. And indeed, the movie is really great in every way except the only one that really matters, which is the scares.
|But tell me, Mr. Anderson, what good is a phone call... if you're unable to speak?|
I don’t know if I am just immune or what, but something about these scary guys in black coats with hoods that cover their faces just doesn’t do anything for me at all. Wasn’t scared of the fisherman from I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, wasn’t scared of the TALL MAN, wasn’t scared of the dementors from HARRY POTTER, wasn’t scared of Jawas. And unfortunately, if that particular horror trope doesn’t do anything for ya, the movie doesn’t have much else. If you’re not creeped out by a guy in a hood skulking around menacing people but never really actually doing much to them, man, you’re going to be checking your watch a lot. It’s a good reminder that horror can be a lot like comedy, in that if it doesn’t sync up with your particular distinct sensibilities, it doesn’t matter how hard it’s working cuz it’s never gonna reach ya.
And it’s a shame, because there’s a ton I admire here. I love the idea of these two parallel tales about the same monster, subtly different in their tone and execution. I love Clive Owen and his well-meaning but awkward relationship with his daughter who is getting too old for him to relate to anymore. I love seeing Carice Van Houten (so fantastic in BLACK BOOK) get work, even if she’s mostly wasted here. I even sort of love the twist in the way the two seemingly parallel stories interact with each other. And I can see good horror ideas in here. The opening scene of the film has a little kid simply watching in shock and disbelief as this hooded, creepy thing climbs up the railing outside his apartment out of fucking nowhere -- no context, no warnings of any kind. There’s a fun scene where the same kid climbs fearfully out of bed, sensing that the monster is around somewhere. We turn with him as he looks feverishly 360 degrees around him, still feeling anxious but convinced that the danger is nowhere in sight. But Hollow Face is right behind him, moving exactly as he does so as to stay just outside his vision. Great horror idea, well executed, just does nothing for me. I wanted to love this one, and it’s definitely worth some love by someone better suited for the kind of scares it’s selling. That just ain’t me.