Review: Intruders

Clive Owen has to help his daughter face her fears after a monster begins stalking her at night in director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s Spanish horror Intruders.

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Clive Owen stars in director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s film about the corresponding stories of two children who are terrorised by a monster they each refer to as Hollow Face. The film neatly plays on folkloric bedtime stories as both children let their imaginations run riot under the watchful gaze of parents that encourage them. Fresnadillo captures the primal fears of children, particularly those that Stephen King has made a career out of mining, that begin when the light goes out at bedtime.

However, while attempting to build tension as the monster’s attacks begin to reach out to the parents as well, the film suffers from a lack of real innovation and some poor special effects. Intruders looks the part with its darkly lit London suburbs contrasting the harsh torchlight illuminating a child cowering under the bed sheets, but its ideas feel less than fresh. Indeed, while its opening sequence involving a cloaked monster emerging from a thunderous rain shower to attack mother and child looks fantastic, it’s a tired, formulaic setting.

“Intruders looks the part with its darkly lit London suburbs contrasting the harsh torchlight illuminating a child cowering under the bed sheets, but its ideas feel less than fresh.”

It isn’t helped by some very ropey special effects that remind me of the criticism targeted at Dwayne Johnson’s Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns. The same stuck-in-the-1980s computer effects culpable for the horrendous digital rendition of The Rock in the 2001 film are surprisingly still evident today. While Fresnadillo insists on lighting his attacker in shadow, something the filmmakers forgot to insist upon in The Mummy Returns, it doesn’t make a great deal of difference. The creative freedom provided by digital effects is not to be shunned but it makes a mockery of the supposed threat here. Particularly in view of what can be achieved by model makers, make-up artists and costume designers, as highlighted before CGI came on the scene (for example, the werewolf transformation in An American Werewolf In London, the creature in Alien, the evil entities of Hellraiser) I know what I’d prefer to see.

So quite quickly Intruders, without a credible, tangible threat, degenerates into family-in-crisis hysteria, built upon some lazy set-pieces (a construction accident on a high-rise building project), cliché (science versus religion as made infamous in The Exorcist), and a convoluted, out of control plot that slowly grumbles its way to an unconvincing climax. Perhaps the reason Clive Owen’s performance is so bland is that he knew he was in a stinker.

Review by Daniel StephensSee all reviews

Directed by: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Written by: Nicolás Casariego, Jaime Marques

Starring: Clive Owen, Carice van Houten, Daniel Brühl, Pilar López de Ayala, Ella Purnell

Released: 2011 / Genre: Horror / Country: Spain / IMDB

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Evan Crean Reply

    I thought the character of Hollowface was interesting and pretty freaky at points, but not terribly well-developed. Agreed that the special effects left something to be desired and the ending was unconvincing. The resolution was a let down, and honestly quite confusing. At first when the end credits came I literally looked at a friend and said “I don’t get it.”

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    ruth Reply

    I like Clive Owen but lately he hasn’t done anything I want to see, well aside from the HBO film where he’s playing Hemingway. I hope he does something worth seeing soon!

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