Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Intruders

One more bummer supernatural thriller, all too easy to figure out and with an arty overlay that mitigates pulpy enjoyment.

March 28, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1323248-Intruders_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

In Intruders, two families are seemingly menaced by a terrifying, faceless and lonely ghoul called Hollow Face, bent on ripping off children’s faces in order to wear them and therefore be loved. In Spain, little Juan (Izán Corchero) first conceives of this nightmare in a bedtime story he tells his mother Luisa (Pilar López de Ayala) that suddenly becomes horrifyingly real. In London, 12-year-old Mia (Ella Purnell) becomes haunted by the same spectre when she discovers a childishly scrawled story about it, hidden in a tree on her grandparents’ property and, traumatized, stops talking.

Both Luisa and Mia’s father John (Clive Owen) try to find support from others, but her priest, Father Antonio (Daniel Brühl), John’s wife Sue (Carice van Houten) and child psychologist Rachel (Kerry Fox) are unbelieving. Indeed, when it becomes apparent on videotape that John at one point is basically tussling with nothing although he believes it to be the dreaded Hollow Face, Social Services considers him a danger and removes him from Mia.

Intruders bears some resemblance to the recently released The Woman in Black in that it is torturously slow to get started and, after all that, ends too abruptly and unsatisfyingly. Although Hollow Face as conceived here is indeed a mysteriously swirling, effectively amorphous presence, at every point director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo favors deliberate, extremely logy obfuscation over logic, with the emphasis on psychological pain. The entire thing hinges on a big plot reveal Fresnadillo does his utmost to conceal: Are we looking at flashbacks or simultaneously happening stories? But it’s pretty easy to figure out and once that light goes on in the viewer’s head, you are left with a mere, big “So what?” In the predictably violent denouement, the director drops all subtlety and shows poor Mia engulfed with obviously CGI writhing snakes, which is just, well, cheesy.

Fresnadillo and his screenwriters haven’t enriched their characters sufficiently to make you truly care about what happens to them, the way Polanski could, as in Rosemary’s Baby, or Jack Clayton did in The Innocents, or even, God help us, William Friedkin in The Exorcist, so you watch it all at an emotional remove. All the women, in particular, are too sketchily drawn.

Under the circumstances, Owen, with those wounded baby blues of his, does manage to deliver some believably fraught humanity, and Purnell is very good and convincing, with her preternatural pre-Raphaelite beauty at least providing some visual efficacy in this otherwise drab enterprise.


Film Review: Intruders

One more bummer supernatural thriller, all too easy to figure out and with an arty overlay that mitigates pulpy enjoyment.

March 28, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1323248-Intruders_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

In Intruders, two families are seemingly menaced by a terrifying, faceless and lonely ghoul called Hollow Face, bent on ripping off children’s faces in order to wear them and therefore be loved. In Spain, little Juan (Izán Corchero) first conceives of this nightmare in a bedtime story he tells his mother Luisa (Pilar López de Ayala) that suddenly becomes horrifyingly real. In London, 12-year-old Mia (Ella Purnell) becomes haunted by the same spectre when she discovers a childishly scrawled story about it, hidden in a tree on her grandparents’ property and, traumatized, stops talking.

Both Luisa and Mia’s father John (Clive Owen) try to find support from others, but her priest, Father Antonio (Daniel Brühl), John’s wife Sue (Carice van Houten) and child psychologist Rachel (Kerry Fox) are unbelieving. Indeed, when it becomes apparent on videotape that John at one point is basically tussling with nothing although he believes it to be the dreaded Hollow Face, Social Services considers him a danger and removes him from Mia.

Intruders bears some resemblance to the recently released The Woman in Black in that it is torturously slow to get started and, after all that, ends too abruptly and unsatisfyingly. Although Hollow Face as conceived here is indeed a mysteriously swirling, effectively amorphous presence, at every point director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo favors deliberate, extremely logy obfuscation over logic, with the emphasis on psychological pain. The entire thing hinges on a big plot reveal Fresnadillo does his utmost to conceal: Are we looking at flashbacks or simultaneously happening stories? But it’s pretty easy to figure out and once that light goes on in the viewer’s head, you are left with a mere, big “So what?” In the predictably violent denouement, the director drops all subtlety and shows poor Mia engulfed with obviously CGI writhing snakes, which is just, well, cheesy.

Fresnadillo and his screenwriters haven’t enriched their characters sufficiently to make you truly care about what happens to them, the way Polanski could, as in Rosemary’s Baby, or Jack Clayton did in The Innocents, or even, God help us, William Friedkin in The Exorcist, so you watch it all at an emotional remove. All the women, in particular, are too sketchily drawn.

Under the circumstances, Owen, with those wounded baby blues of his, does manage to deliver some believably fraught humanity, and Purnell is very good and convincing, with her preternatural pre-Raphaelite beauty at least providing some visual efficacy in this otherwise drab enterprise.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Momo
Film Review: Letter to Momo

Literally beset by goblins, this strained animated effort should have concentrated on the human elements of its story rather than the supernatural. More »

A Master Builder
Film Review: A Master Builder

A personal project which should have stayed personal, this turgid yet flat Ibsen adaptation is third-time unlucky for Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory. More »

Fanny
Film Review: Fanny

"Classic" is a word all too casually bandied about, but for Daniel Auteuil's screen adaptation of this beloved French trilogy it is completely apropos. More »

Alive Inside
Film Review: Alive Inside

Incredibly moving and powerful documentary about combatting Alzheimer's with music. Without the use of a single CGI effect, you see literal miracles happening here. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Magic in the Moonlight
Film Review: Magic in the Moonlight

Slight Woody Allen period romance is enlivened by appealing leads Colin Firth and Emma Stone. More »

Sex Tape review
Film Review: Sex Tape

Couple's homemade porn circulates on the web in an R-rated comedy that wastes the talents of its stars. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here