CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: INTRUDERS (2012)
Movie Review by L.L. Soares
LS: Hello! I’m here to prove, once and for all, that there’s no such thing as a boogeyman. I asked Michael to join me, but I guess he chickened out.
(The closet door open and a large man wearing a hood peeks out)
HOODED MAN: Hollow Face.
HOODED MAN: I’m not the boogeyman. I’m called Hollow Face. Because I don’t have a face.
LS: Oh yeah, I forgot.
HOLLOW FACE: Don’t worry about it.
LS: Anyway, as I was saying, I don’t think Michael is going to show up, but while we’re waiting, I might as well review the new movie INTRUDERS.
HOLLOW FACE: Sounds good to me. What’s it about?
LS: As INTRUDERS begins, a young boy in Spain, Juan (Izan Corchero) wakes up at night to go out in the rain and find his pet cat, when he sees a strange man climbing up some scaffolding outside his apartment. When the man slips inside a window, Juan hurries inside to find a hooded man attacking his mother. When the boy screams, the man attacks him instead. But is this a nightmare, or is it real?
Juan is haunted by a strange supernatural being with a hood and no face, and he constantly writes stories about this creature, who he calls Hollow Face. And it constantly disrupts his sleep, as every night there’s a chance Hollow Face might show up and try to steal the boy’s face. His mother, growing more and more concerned, even brings Juan to a priest, Father Antonio (Daniel Bruhl), fearing he might be possessed. Juan’s mother seems as terrified as her son is.
Meanwhile, something similar is happening in London. A girl who just turned twelve, named Mia (Ella Purnell, previously in 2010’s NEVER LET ME GO), also begins to see a hooded, faceless figure in her bedroom. She also finds a tiny wooden coffin in a hole in a tree. Inside of it is a story about Hollow Face on a folded piece of paper. A story which she continues writing on her own.
So we have two children in different countries, both writing about this Hollowface character, and both being tormented by him at night. Is there a link between them? Between the stories they are writing and the physical manifestation of Hollow Face?
Mia is very close to her father, John Farrow (Clive Owen)—this means that the daughter’s name is Mia Farrow! —who actually tries to help her to stop being afraid of this late-night boogeyman. He even creates an effigy in their backyard using an old hooded coat, boots, and a basketball for a head, and sets it on fire in an attempt to get rid of Hollow Face once and for all. John’s wife Susanna (Carice van Housten, who was previously in the great Paul Veerhoven WWII drama, BLACK BOOK (2006), as well as 2010’s REPO MEN, and the HBO series GAME OF THRONES), catches them and puts out the fire, finding the whole thing disturbing.
But things just get worse when John goes into Mia’s room late and night and sees an actual intruder holding her captive. He fights with the man, but he gets way. The police are called, and Mia is so traumatized that she is no longer able to speak and has to see a psychiatrist (Kerry Fox) daily.
So who exactly is Hollow Face, and why is he tormenting these people?
HOLLOW FACE: I was wondering the same thing. Tell me more.
LS: Sure. So there are several times during the story where you’re not sure if Hollow Face is a real supernatural being, or if he’s the result of emotional trauma and possibly even insanity, and there were several times when I thought the big revelation of what was going on was going to be as annoying as an M. Night Shyamalan movie, or similar to another Spanish “twist ending” movie, THE OTHERS (2001), by Alejandro Amenabar. A movie which I seem to be in the minority about, since I really didn’t like it.
But by the end, INTRUDERS redeems itself, giving us answers to our questions that actually make sense (well, not all of them, but most of the answers make sense). As it all ties together, we realize there have been clues throughout the film.
HOLLOW FACE: Fascinating.
LS: INTRUDERS was directed by Spanish director Juan Carlos Frednadillo, who previously made the Spanish film INTACTO (2001) and the sequel to 28 DAYS LATER (2002), called, ingeniously, 28 WEEKS LATER (2007). He does a good job here, working from a script by Nicolas Casariego and Jaime Marques.
The acting, for the most part, is pretty good. Clive Owen is the obvious big-name star here, and he does a good job as Mia’s concerned father. Owen’s been in some pretty good movies over the years, including the innovative SIN CITY (2005) and the underrated CHILDREN OF MEN (2006), and even though this isn’t one of his best roles, he does a serviceable job in INTRUDERS.
The real main characters of this movie, however are Mia and Juan, the two children who are trying to survive being tormented by the sinister Hollow Face. Both kids are good, but Ella Purnell is especially good as Mia. I thought her scenes alone with Clive Owen, as they try to face Mia’s fears, were the best in the movie. You really could feel the bond between father and daughter.
My biggest concern about INTRUDERS was how it was going handle the ending. I’m not a fan of twists, since most directors do not do them well. But Fresnadillo acquits himself well, and the movie was better than I expected.
I give in two and a half knives.
HOLLOW FACE: Sounds like you liked it.
LS: I did. I didn’t expect to, but I did.
(The lights come on, and MICHAEL ARRUDA enters the room)
MA: Well, here I am for the movie review. Sorry I’m late…(stops)…Who’s this?
LS: That’s funny, I thought it was you playing dress-up.
(They both turn to stare at HOLLOW FACE, who pulls down his hood to reveal a BLANK FACE!)
HOLLOW FACE: Boo!
(LS and MA yelp and run out of the house).
HOLLOW FACE (laughing): That was easy. Come back next time for another edition of Cinema Knife Fight.
© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares
L.L. Soares gives INTRUDERS~ two and a half knives!