Intruders (2012): Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s Horror Film, Starring Clive Owen and Mia Farrow

Though not scary, Intruders is nevertheless an exercise in horror film style of some interest.

Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, who previously handled “28 Weeks Later” (2007), the sequel to “28 Days Later” (2002), this film delivers the atmosphere, is sleek on the surface, but vastly disappointing when it comes to story and plot.

Fresnadillo tries his best to build things up to a Hitchcockian climax, but the psychological aspects of the script turn to Jell-O long before he can get close to his destination.

Enrique Chediak’s carefully composed cinematography is wasted on a narrative that cannot keep up Fresnadillo and Chediak’s visuals and the rich ambience they have captured, in which a child simply climbing a tree can feel mythic.

The screenplay, written by Nico Casariego and Jaime Marques, basically comes down to innocent children versus Hollow Face, a monstrous entity who is after the kids—and perhaps is the product of their fertile imaginations.

While the children of “Intruders” are sweet enough, the monster—even with a name like Hollow Face and some Hannibal Lecter tendencies—is not all that frightening. “Children in danger” is the film’s calling card, but the kids here never seem to be in real danger. Fresnadillo never shows us a child actually destroyed by the creature, for instance.

Hollow Face appropriately has no face; he lives to remove children’s faces and wear them as his own. This is ostensibly so that he, too, can be loved. How he ever lost his face remains a mystery, so he is more of a nonentity than one of those sad monsters deserving of some degree of audience sympathy.

His latest target is preteen Mia Farrow (Ella Purnell)—yes, Mia Farrow is the character’s name—the daughter of John Farrow (Clive Owen), who initially does not believe in the monster but in due course becomes its staunchest believer.

It does not take long for “Intruders” to stop making sense and, worse, start to drag, the storyline coming to an inexplicable standstill at several points. Probably the most boring exorcism scene ever committed to film is plopped in the middle of this movie.

Silliness also creeps in. In one uneven scene, John encourages Mia to be unafraid by throwing together a scarecrow in their backyard and setting it ablaze. (The Farrows live on a crowded suburban street in London but never seem to have any neighbors disturbed by the loud, crazy goings-on at their home.)

The writers have also made the unwise decision to jump back and forth between this main story and another Hollow Man incident that occurred many years prior in Spain, involving a boy named Juan (Izan Corchero) and his frantic mother (Pilar Lopez de Ayala).

The two storylines are destined to finally come together in what is meant to be a big surprise, but most viewers will surely have figured out what connects the stories long before the awkward reveal.

Keeping things simpler would have worked better in this case. “Intruders” looks great, at times feels right, but destroys itself with its screenplay.

Cast

Mia Farrow – Ella Purnell

John Farrow – Clive Owen

Father Antonio – Daniel Bruhl

Sue Farrow – Carice Van Houten

Mia’s psychologist – Kerry Fox

Luisa – Pilar Lopez de Ayala

Juan – Izan Corchero

 

Credits

A Millennium Entertainment release.

Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo.

Written by Nico Casariego and Jaime Marques.

Produced by Enrique Lopez-Lavigne, Belen Atienza, and Mercedes Gamero.

Cinematography, Enrique Chediak.

Editing, Nacho Ruiz Capillas.

Original Music, Roque Banos.

Running time: 100 minutes.

 

 

 

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