March 30, 2012 (Limited U.S. Theatrical)
Nicolás Casariego, Jaime Marques
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Clive Owen as John Farrow
Ella Purnell as Mia
Carice van Houten as Susanna
Pilar López de Ayala as Woman
Izán Corchero as Juan
For the second time in 10 years I found myself actually frightened by a piece of art.Paranormal Activity 2 managed the feat (there’s something terrifying about the inclusion of the baby, perhaps that comes affixed to fatherhood) less than two years ago. The occurrence is so rare I didn’t anticipate a similar sensation for at least another decade. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo somehow duplicated the terror once again with his latest chiller, the Clive Owen fronted Intruders.
There’s a very special connection created between the supernatural and the natural here, and I love the fact that screenwriters Nicolás Casariego and Jaime Marques utilize the power of the mind to manifest the dangers of both realms. You’re not going to see any alien creatures crash to earth and overtake man, or deceased victims rise with a thirst for blood; no, the fear comes from the inner recesses, and takes shape only after given the power of imagination. You see, Hollowface is a very real antagonist physically, but he’s only given life after a pair of creative kids craft some eerily similar stories, which detail a featureless figure who steals the facial structures of children.
Viewers will likely pick up on the fact that there’s a deeper connection between both the kids and this menace early, but Fresnadillo does a fantastic job of refraining from unleashing such an overwhelming load of foreshadowing that the twist is practically slaps you in the face. He allows the tension to build and leaves enough room for the atmosphere to gradually build to something near tangible. There’s one specific sequence in the earlier goings of the feature that showcases Mia (Ella Purnell), John’s (Clive Owen) daughter, in her room, petrified by what she believes is something in her closet. When the inhabitant of the closet is revealed, it’s absolutely spine tingling, and the first moment in which it becomes apparent: Intruders is going to be unsettling.
At approximately 100 minute’s runtime, Intruders moves at a stunning pace. The film honestly feels as though it travels a 60-65 minute course, and that’s indicative of an engaging piece of work. When a movie ends, and you’re angry there aren’t another 15-20 minutes to take in, someone did something really, really right. In this case, there isn’t a hint of weakness on any detectable front; even the CGI is well controlled and generally contained.
While I could write a book on the technical genius of Intruders, I can summarize the acting in much briefer. So, I’ll say this, from an analytical stance there are extremely few issues to isolate and criticize, it’s just air tight for the most part. Now the acting, I can safely elaborate on without chewing up 50,000 words. Clive Owen is haunting in this picture. If ever there was an instance of perfection from Clive, it’s this film. As the father of a 10 year old daughter (Owen’s character John’s daughter is 12), I was absolutely glued to my seat while witnessing Owen’s interpretation of a father; this man nailed the natural responses of a quality father seamlessly. Not only that, but he’s a father so passionate about his child that as a viewer, it’s easy to pull for his every maneuver and sympathize his plight. But, Clive doesn’t own the film solely, and that’s one of the factors that elevate Intruders from good to great. I’ve never once seen Ella Purnell onscreen. She’s completely foreign to me… well, she was. Purnell is one to watch as she exhibits an understanding of the thespian art far beyond her years’ experience. Hell, far beyond her years on this earth. At 15 years old, Ella turns in a performance that probably had Grace Kelly turning in her grave, to pay attention. The remaining key players invest great work, and there just really is no detectable vulnerability from the entire ensemble. It’s a serious joy to watch.
The typical plot synopsis of this film may lead you to believe you’re dealing with a strange slasher/invasion hybrid, but that’s not the case, at all. Intruders is a powerful psychological horror film injected with a very real, very physical menace. Expect some remarkably eerie moments, spellbinding performances and a level of tension rarely seen today. If you happen upon the chance to catch the film in theaters, do so without a hint of hesitation.