Intruders Review

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Score

A very silly and unsatisfying film with some passable performances.

Poor Clive Owen. When is he going to break the cycle of playing harried, fleece-wearing everymen and actually deliver a bold, meaty character turn to justify his (premature?) augmentation into the acting A-list? Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s water-treading Intruders is – for all intent and purpose – identical to David Schwimmer’s recent Trust, which saw Owen as a concerned father learning that his daughter has been groomed by a child molester over the internet.

He experiences similar parental woes here, but this time they’re of the supernatural/psychological variety as his bookish 12-year-old daughter (Ella Purnell) is being terrorised by a hooded bogeyman in her wardrobe whom she has dubbed Hollow Face. Running alongside this is a parallel storyline about Spanish nipper Juan who is experiencing identical night terrors, to which his distressed mother (Pilar López de Ayala) is finding it increasingly tough to attend.

Though simple enough on paper, Fresnadillo opts to impede and obscure matters whenever he can with the use of flashy optical effects and the unnecessary withholding of key information for the purposes of obligatory third-act plot-twist mayhem. The narrative also hinges on a series of unlikely coincidences: indeed, this is a story predicated on the purported psychological truism that children will habitually risk their own physical wellbeing to follow a meowing cat.

Its bizarre view of parenting, too, appears to have been filched directly from the Ku Klux Klan book of child domestication: in an effort to assuage his daughter’s fears, John (Owen) choses to build faceless human effigy in the back garden of their suburban mini-mansion, and then burn it.

Elsewhere, Dutch actress Carice van Houten is given the thankless task of appearing in a brief nude scene and then allowed to look frazzled from the sidelines as John’s spouse, Susanna. For reasons unexplained, it’s taken as read that John would have more of an emotional connection to his daughter than Susanna because he’s her father. By the time Kerry Fox turns up as a child psychologist and delivers an expositional monologue that begins with the line , "There’s actually a rare disorder known as…", your sense of good will would’ve left the theatre and checked in to the local drunk tank.

Nothing in this Guillermo del Toro-lite shambles fits together: it’s like a faulty Rubick’s cube that has too many colours and a rogue seventh face. But perhaps its biggest failing is that it’s simply not scary. The explanation for Hollow Face’s presence is banal and tortuous in the extreme. That he also has no real motivation or character means that there is no way to whisk up a sense of real threat.

Anticipation

Why is Clive Owen famous again?

2

Enjoyment

A very silly and unsatisfying film with some passable performances.

2

In Retrospect

No. Just no.

1
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