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

PK
Film Review: PK

An alien trying to return home tangles with religious authorities in a low-key Bollywood message drama. More »

A Small Section
Film Review: A Small Section of the World

Worthy but uninvolving documentary about the coffee-producing women of Costa Rica. More »

Sagrada
Film Review: Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation

The fabulous 130-year work-in-progress that is Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral, as well as its crazy-brilliant originator, Antonio Gaudi, is the focus of this vividly informative documentary. More »

Inside the Mind of Leonardo
Film Review: Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D

Documentary-feature hybrid that offers unexpected insight into the world of Leonardo da Vinci, but nonetheless suffers from a heavy hand and pretentious sensibility. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Into the Woods
Film Review: Into the Woods

Over-scaled, too dark and only intermittently charming Sondheim musical adaptation does a disservice to a great cast and is often so noisy you can't even appreciate the music. More »

The H obbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

After rewriting the rules for modern fantasy cinema, for the better and worse, Peter Jackson’s six-film Tolkien saga slams, bangs and shudders to a long-overdue conclusion. 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