Review: Intruders (TIFF 2011)
PLOT: Two children, one in Spain, and the other in London, are stalked by a hooded demon called Hollowface- who their parents are powerless to stop. The London girl's father, John (Clive Owen) becomes obsessed with protecting his daughter against this monster everyone else is convinced doesn't exist, and in the process convinces his wife (Carice Van Houten), and the authorities that the biggest danger to his daughter may in fact be himself.
REVIEW: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's INTRUDERS is a film that's likely going to divide the genre community in two. Some will absolutely hate it, as the last section of the film totally re-classifies it from being a supernatural thriller into something else- while others will applaud it's boldness. I delayed writing this review for a few days as, truth be told, I honestly wasn't sure what camp I fell into once the end credits rolled.
After thinking about it for awhile, I'm convinced that Fresnadillo's film is in fact a very brave genre exercise, that's nowhere near as cut and dried as it initially comes off. If anything, INTRUDERS is a psychological drama, owing more to films like JACOB'S LADDER, than the recent, similarly themed DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK.
Fresnadillo's a director I've been watching closely since 28 WEEKS LATER, which probably should have been a disaster, as 28 DAYS LATER should have been a sequel-proof film, but ended up being one of the unexpected surprises of the summer of 2008.
He's certainly taken his time crafting a follow-up, but having watched INTRUDERS, I respect the fact that he didn't play it safe and turn in the horror thriller most would expect given the plot line. The parallel stories work well, with a full 40% of the film being in Spanish, telling the tale of young Juan (a terrific Izan Corchero), and his mother (Pilar Lopez de Ayala) as they try to fight his demon along with the honest efforts of an idealist priest (Daniel Bruhl- cutting a very Father Karras/ THE EXORIST style figure).
This section of the story's linked in a surprising way to the other part, centring on the Clive Owen character's daughter, who's being tortured by a monster Owen's powerless to stop- with it first robbing her of her voice, and eventually her vision, and more. Clive Owen once again delivers a superb performance, that in a way seems to be a supernatural companion piece to his entry at last year's TIFF, TRUST. No one does anguished and tortured like Owen, and his intensity kicks INTRUDERS up to a whole other level. It's nice to see a genre film featuring a top-calibre actor in the lead, who gives the role his all. BLACK BOOK's Carice Van Houten has the more two-dimensional “concerned wife” role, but she still manages to give it some depth in a few good scenes.
So far so good right? If the acting and direction is so good, why could it possibly split horror fans? Well, it all comes down to a major twist/ revelation in the climax that will drive some people nuts, but will be considered relatively inspired by others. I truly appreciate Fresnadillo's effort to give audiences something different, while wrapping it in the kind of genre wrappings that could attract audiences. If genre fans keep an open mind, and are prepared for a different type of film that what the studios will probably sell to them, they should get a kick out of INTRUDERS. I certainly did, and as always, I look forward to Fresnadillo's future projects.