Old 03-31-2012, 10:41 PM
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's Intruders

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:



Intruders (2012)

“Intruders” is a horror film that has absolutely nothing memorable or noteworthy about it. So much so in fact, that even hard-core horror fans will have difficulty staying awake through this snoozefest. For a film that claims to be a horror-thriller, it is strangely lacking in both areas. This is probably a big part of the reason that the studio is attempting to slip this film out into theaters in a limited release.

The story revolves around two families. The first is a young boy, Juan (Izan Corchero), and his mother. Juan has been writing a horror story involving a creature known as Hollowface, who is attempting to steal a face for himself. Juan begins having nightmares about the character, but his mother is concerned that they may not be simple nightmares. This causes her to enlist the help of a priest, Father Antonio (Daniel Bruhl), to help purge Juan of this mysterious thing that’s troubling him.

The other story involves John Farrow (Clive Owen), his wife, Susanna (Carice van Houten), and their daughter, Mia (Ella Purnell). One day, Mia finds a small box in a tree containing a story about Hollowface. Shortly afterwards, she begins seeing him in her room at night. At first, it’s thought that these are merely nightmares, until the night her father sees him in her room as well.

The main reason “Intruders” never comes together is because of its story. It is one of the blandest stories I’ve seen in a long time, particularly for a horror film. Neither story develops very far, giving it a very stretched out feeling as it slowly makes its way towards the inevitable merging of the two. The title itself isn’t even accurate as it’s only about one creature trying to attack these two kids.

Then there’s the creature itself. This must have taken the writers all of 30 seconds to come up with: a creature that has no face that’s trying to take one from a child. This thing is always wearing a hood, making it reminiscent of the fisherman from “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” so you never get to see very much of it, but at least the fisherman had a hook to threaten with. All Hollowface has are claws that he never uses.

Hollowface just never becomes a threatening character, which is why the film is lacking any thrills. To make matters worse, several shots of him are done in laughably-bad CGI, showing that there wasn’t much room in the budget to make a more realistic and terrifying creature. If the filmmakers thought they were putting together something thrilling with this character then they were sadly mistaken.

Then there’s the completely nonsensical ending. We know early on that the stories have to eventually merge, which they do to no one’s surprise. However, what becomes of the film after that is so random that you can tell that the inexperienced writers, Nicolas Casariego and Jaime Marques, just gave up, leaving large parts of the plot unexplained.

The film comes from director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, whose previous and most widely-known project was the decent “28 Weeks Later.” With “Intruders,” he’s taken a big step down, giving us a dull film that never gets on its feet. It would be interesting to know what he originally saw in the project that attracted him to it in the first place. Perhaps he was counting on a better design for Hollowface, something that would have helped the film at least a little bit.

However, it’s doubtful that even that would have helped overcome the shortcomings of the story. The whole thing just ends up feeling like more of a straight-to-dvd release instead of a theatrical film. Perhaps that would have been the best route to take for “Intruders” as it’s doubtful that many people are going to take the time to go see the film in theaters, especially in a limited release. Its best hope is that a few people will wander into one of the few theaters where it is playing and, not knowing anything about it, randomly pick it. 1.5/4 stars.
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