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.
Release Date: March 30, 2012 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
Juan and Mia are two children in different countries who are haunted by a faceless apparition in their nightmares called Hollowface who is bent on stealing their faces to replace his missing one. Juan (Izan Corchero) has made up a story about Hollowface, and with every word he writes the story becomes truer and truer, with Hollowface coming to life and trying to kidnap him, only to have the attempt thwarted by his mother. Meanwhile, Mia (Ella Purnell from Never Let Me Go) has found an unfinished story about Hollowface that she passes off as her own in school. When her class wants to hear the end, she is forced to write it, which summons Hollowface to her. Mia’s father, John (Children of Men‘s Clive Owen), is determined to do anything it takes to save his daughter from the maniac, especially when he realizes that the being is real and not just in Mia’s nightmares. John is forced to uncover the mystery of Hollowface while figuring out that the strange connection Mia has with Juan goes much deeper than just the story.
Intruders is one of those films that has a ton of potential, but never really puts it to use. The concept of the children’s stories coming to life is great; the cast is solid, the technical aspects of the film are well done, and the mood of the picture is creepy. So, where does it go wrong?
Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later), Intruders simply lacks bite. It walks the line between horror film and children’s movie, and ends up falling down somewhere halfway along the journey. The screenplay was written by Nicolas Casariego and Jaime Marques, and it’s the first real project for either of them. Their inexperience shows, as the story is inconsistent, full of plot holes and gets severely bogged down at times. But stronger films have been made out of weaker scripts, so the real problem with Intruders is in the direction. Rather than keep the foot on the gas, Fresnadillo opts to give the viewer too much time to breathe, so the film as a whole is emotionally unsatisfying. Fresnadillo adds to the melee by having the film jump around confusingly between Juan’s story and Mia’s story, as well as skipping from dreams and nightmares to waking life. All the jumping disorients the audience, but not in the good way. There is a clever Shyamalan-like twist that almost saves the movie, but by the time it comes, the audience is already lost, and there’s no finding them.
As a horror movie, Intruders appears to be attempting to outdo A Nightmare on Elm Street, but Fresnadillo is no Wes Craven, Hollowface is no Freddy Krueger, and A Nightmare on Elm Street is scarier, more coherent and, overall, a much better film.
Intruders looks great. Fresnadillo uses his 28 Weeks Later cinematographer, Enrique Chediak. Chediak knows his horror films, having also worked on such gems as The Faculty and Turistas, and his experience shines through on this film as well. It’s dark, gloomy and full of shadows. Chediak’s camera follows the terror that the kids feel into their closets and under their beds, using every camera trick in the book to try and squeeze a little horror out of the dragging story. He succeeds in setting the tone for the movie, but, without the shot in the arm that the script could have used, the film still falls flat. Still, the photography is great, giving the viewer something to pay attention to when the story gets slow.
The biggest problem with Intruders is its lack of scares. It does a pretty nice job of building up the suspense (thanks in large part to a frenetic score by Roque Banos, who also did The Machinist), but the tension never really comes to a head. There’s only so many times that an audience can get worked up only to be let down before they just stop getting worked up again. Without a payoff, the suspense is just aggravating.
Like the rest of the movie, the character of Hollowface has potential. Looking like the hooded rain-coated killer from I Know What You Did Last Summer, he’s creepy, ever-present and seemingly invincible. What he’s lacking is character; his back story isn’t fully developed so he just appears as a threatening shadow instead of an iconic horror villain.
With Intruders, it seems like Fresnadillo tried to make a pure horror film along the lines of The Haunting or What Lies Beneath, with no gore and plenty of suspense. However, suspense does not always equal scares, and Intruders is not scary.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
- Producer(s): Belen AtienzaMercedes GameroEnrique Lopez Lavigne
- Screenwriter(s): Nicolas CasariegoJaime Marques
- Cast: Clive Owen (John Farrow)Carice van Houten (Susanna)Daniel Bruhl (Father Antonio) Ella Purnell (Mia)Kerry Fox (Dr. Rachel)
- Cinematographer: Enrique Chediak
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Roque Banos
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USAUK