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2011 | 100 min | R | 2.39:1



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Theatrical release date

 30 March, 2012
 27 January, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

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Screenshots from Intruders Blu-ray

Intruders Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, March 30, 2012

Perhaps “Intruders” is for more discerning horror movie audiences. It’s a tense feature, heavy with nightmarish imagery, but its ultimate intentions take the picture out of the genre, disrupting reliable elements of terror with heavy symbolic inclinations that assume a deeper psychological importance. It’s a sturdily constructed chiller with an ambition to land somewhere beyond the norm, and those expecting more of standard boogeyman run of torment will likely find themselves disappointed in the latest effort from director Juan Carlos Frensnadillo. More adventurous viewers will discover a challenging picture that bends reality in a subtle matter, taking an alternative path to sniff out some scares.

A working-class father of 12-year-old Mia (Ella Purnell), John (Clive Owen) is horrified to learn that his child is being subjected to nightmares involving a hulking demon known as HollowFace. While wife Susanna (Carice van Houten) is dismissive of the invisible agitation, John soon discovers the threat is real to him as well, fighting the invader for control of his daughter’s body. While doctors provide their own theories on the actuality of HollowFace, John is determined to protect Mia. Elsewhere, a young Spanish boy also deals with the appearance of the hooded creature, with his terrified mother turning to a local priest (Daniel Bruhl) for assistance in the eradication of the menace.

Frensnadillo is perhaps best known around the world as the director of 2007’s “28 Weeks Later.” Returning to screens, the helmer accepts a more intimate challenge with “Intruders,” a horror production that doesn’t move far beyond a solitary location to construct a two-headed story of possession and heavily cloaked threat. After dealing with a worldwide viral outbreak, I’m sure the reduction in scale to a single-family house was a breath of fresh air for the filmmaker, who makes good use of the domestic setting to hit creeping beats of distress, finding John and Mia alone in their dread, faced with a wrath of a faceless jacketed ghoul who’s taken up residence in the young girl’s closet.

“Intruders” is a slow-burn viewing experience, establishing itself with an interesting note of authorship, suggesting the two children impacted most by HollowFace’s bedroom occupation are being forced to complete his narrative via the written word, furiously scribbling down a story that fleshes out the stranger’s plan of attack. The screenplay hits a puzzling insinuation of possession, finding the kids contributing to their agony, drawing out HollowFace further and further as they frantically feed his presence with their imagination, with Mia’s introduction to the stealer of faces triggered by a discovery of hidden pages containing a previous encounter with the antagonist. “Intruders” mines great suspense in the midsection of the picture, building a credible mystery with Mia’s observances and John’s gradual awareness of the haunting.

The question of HollowFace’s existence makes up the core of “Intruders,” with the script keeping all potential answers in play up to the expository ending, which does satisfy despite a build-up that all but promises a cop out. Fresnadillo juggles the possibilities competently, layering on striking visual symbols while cutting between the stories, building a connection that carries a darker tone of trauma, away from the haunted house atmosphere the rest of the picture enjoys. There’s a maturity to scares contained within “Intruders” that makes it a more compelling sit, interested in investigating fragments of sanity rather than the predictability of slasher shenanigans. However, those who demand a duller edge to their nightmare fuel should seek their frights elsewhere.

The cast brings a serviceable amount of enthusiasm to the project, with Purnell turning in fine work as the haunted girl, while Owen displays full commitment to the protective dad routine. Although it never quite reaches a profound place of revelation or visceral release, “Intruders” is aided well by the actors, helping the script and Fresnadillo reach a fever pitch of discovery, making the ending of the film feel genuine while it tackles a delicate balancing act of payoff and interpretation. “Intruders” is smarter than your average genre picture, but it earns most of its consideration. HollowFace is a significant menace, but he’s also a surprisingly complex figure of mystery, gifting the movie an unexpected traumatic edge.

Starring: Clive Owen, Carice van Houten, Daniel Brühl, Ralph Ineson
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

» See full cast & crew

Intruders, Forum Discussions

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Intruders (2011) 15 Oct 21, 2013

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