Intruders tries to take us back to the classic horror story of the bogeyman but has one major flaw, it’s not scary.
The bogeyman in question is Hollow Face and we pass between the lives of two children and their experiences of the man with no face. First up is a little boy named Juan who is haunted nightly by visions of the monster. His distraught mother tries everything to calm her son’s nerves but when all’s lost what do the Catholics do? That’s right, get a priest, with Daniel Bruhl, fresh from being a Nazi poster boy in Inglorious Bastards, more than happy to help.
So with many horror cliches ticked, we move onto Mia (Ella Purnell), the daughter of Clive Owen and her visions only begin when she comes across a mysterious piece of paper in a hollowed out tree trunk. Needless to say it isn’t Boo Radley’s and when Mia starts to add to the story, a certain man begins to raise his formless face once more.
The film is trying to go for a more traditional Edgar Allen Poe tale of macabre but instead of a truly terrifying story, we’re left with something that wouldn’t pass muster round a campfire. Mia’s voice-over is far too juvenile and just drives home the fact that it’s a child’s bedtime story at best. Clive Owen is adept at playing the concerned father but he doesn’t have to strain his acting muscle that hard and one wonders where it all went wrong after Children of Men?
It’s Juan Carlos Fresnadillo first feature since the fairly decent 28 Weeks Later and you can see that he is trying to dial back the gore, concentrating more on the story. This is admirable in such torture-porn/slasher/gratuitous violence horror movie times but you better have a damn good story to fall back on.
The two main aims of a horror movie are to scare you (Insidious) or to make some social commentary (Night of the Living Dead) and this really fails on all levels. Hollow Face is entirely CGI, thus giving him no believability and when the inevitable twist comes I just went “oh right” instead of being blown away.
Fresnadillo was no doubt inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth but should have stuck to what he knew; flesh eating zombies.
USA, UK, Spain / Juan Carlos Fresnadillo / Nicolás Casariego, Jaime Marques / Starring: Clive Owen, Daniel Brühl, Ella Purnell, Kerry Fox, Carice van Houten / 100min / Horror / Release: 27 January 2012 (Ireland, UK), April 2012 (US/Canada)