Movie Review: Intruders 2012
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Cast: Clive Owen, Carice Van Houten. Ella Purnell, Pilar Lopez de Ayala, Izan Corchero, Daniel Bruhn
Intruders is about an evil being named Hollow Face, a closet dwelling boogeyman who terrorizes two children – Spanish boy Juan (Izan Corchero), and 12 year old English girl Mia (Ella Purnell) – and their families.
What's Good About the Movie?:
There is one, count it one, mildly creepy moment in the entire film. Clive Owen plays Mia's father John, who awakens one night to find his daughter wide awake, sitting up in bed, and turning the bedside lamp on and off. She tries to tell him that there is someone in her closet. He dismisses her fears and tries to convince her that everything is alright. Of course, he's wrong about that, and you can certainly bet he finds out just how wrong he is. The set-up of this scene in quite eerie, and when Hollow Face emerges from the closet and reveals himself to John and Mia, it's positively spine-tingling.
It must also be noted that Clive Owen turns in the best performance in the film. Like his performance in last year's under appreciated Trust, where he played a father to a girl victimized by an online predator, Owen brings a fierce determination to the role, and makes every scene he's in count. Special props must also go to cinematographer Enrique Chediak for giving the movie a sleek and atmospheric visual polish.
What's Bad About the Movie?:
Oh, boy. Where to begin? Many critics say that Intruders gets off to a solid start before it goes down hill, but I couldn't disagree more. From the very first scene, the movie misfires, and it never recovers for the whole 100 minutes it plays out.
The movie opens up on a dark and stormy night. Juan is in bed telling his mother (Pilar Lopez de Ayala) a scary story he made up. A story, he says, he doesn't know the ending to yet. Later that evening, when he hears his cat howling outside his window, Juan puts on his rain coat and heads out to fetch the cat. When he turns around, he sees a hooded figure crawl in through his bedroom window, and when he heads back inside, he finds the hooded being trying to strangle his mother to death. It's a potentially frightening scene, but it's hindered by some seriously bad special-effects (Hollow Face is kind of cheesy looking), and it ends with such a cheat that it left me frustrated and dreading what was to come.
Now, we cut over to England. Mia is vising her grandparents with her mother (Carice van Houten), while John is off working at a construction site. Mia finds a story about Hollow Face inside a tree outside her grandparent's home. She passes the story off as her own work at school, and tries to add a little bit to the unfinished narrative. One of the most interesting aspects about the film is how Mia is able to influence her encounters with Hollow Face through her writings. Unfortunately, that part of the plot is never really developed. The story could have taken a number of interesting turns had they followed through on that subplot, but it ends up being a missed opportunity in a film that is sadly rife with them.
The movie cuts back and forth between Juan's story and Mia's. When Juan tells his mother about Hollow Face, she takes him to a young priest (Daniel Bruhn) to try and get him help. When Mia tells John about it, he either tells her to sleep with a teddy bear, or creates a replica of the creature, via a rain jacket and a basket ball, and sets the damn thing on fire in his back yard. One of the funniest scenes in the film comes when John's wife douses the thing with a water hose, and John tries to tell her to relax. “It's just a game.” Yes, because clearly she's the one behaving foolishly here.
Neither of their stories are particularly interesting, and the secret that connects the two stories is contrived and a little predictable. However, as contrived as the twist in the end is, it is nothing compared to the nonsense that follows after the reveal. To call the climax incomprehensible is a gross understatement. What happens in the final fifteen minutes is so confusing that I can't even describe to you what happened. It involves the monster's lair and...something happens. I honestly don't know what. Maybe something coherent can be made out of what happens if one were to revisit it, but when a movie isn't worth watching more than once, it better by God get the job done right the first go round.
Just as incomprehensible is the film's title. Yes, Hollow Face harasses the children while they're in the comfort of their own home, but seeing as how he's the only villain in the film, wouldn't a more fitting title be Intruder? The title Intruders suggests that there is more than one intruder in the film, but there isn't. Or did I miss something?
Despite some negative reviews, I was actually looking forward to Intruders. I love horror movies, especially supernatural thrillers that don't rely on gore to generate tension. I love Clive Owen. And I love that creepy, creepy poster. But while the film has a nice look and a couple of decent performances, Intruders ends up being boring and thrill-less, and is sadly one of the most disappointing films of 2012.
Final Grade: * 1/2 (out of ****)