Intruders Movie Review: Clive Owen Battles Undocumented Apparition

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With a hoodie clad apparition as the cross-cultural monster of choice in Intruders, the theatrical release of the home invasion ghost tale at this particular moment with the ongoing Florida tragedy, could not be more unfortunate. But ill timing is not the only problem plaguing the film. Which, owing to its emphasis on arty, monotonous mood as opposed to suspense, may actually give new meaning to the idea of horror – as in pretty bad – when it comes to assessing a movie.

Clive Owen is John Farrow in Intruders, a London construction worker and family man. Farrow is currently dealing with his daughter Mia’s (Ella Purnell) fear of ghosts, that seems to be going way beyond typical childhood bedtime phobias.

And despite a disbelieving, dismissive mom (Carice Van Houten), an elusive, faceless stranger covered up in a hoodie and dubbed Hollow Face – and possibly undocumented as well, crossing borders not to mention decades, without a passport – appears to be hanging around in dark corners of the house. While occasionally assaulting family members, and incomprehensibly up to no good.

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Meanwhile in a parallel story playing out in Madrid, another child Juan (Izan Corchero) has previously summoned the same hooded stranger and possible kidnapper from a storybook. But in this case, his single mother Luisa (Pilar Lopez de Ayala) shares her son’s perhaps imaginary terror. And eventually community concerns for this peculiar family lead to intervention on the part of the parish priest, Father Antonio (Daniel Bruhl), and an ineffectual exorcism of sorts.

Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo proved his knack for conjuring sustained terror and audience anxiety with the futuristic thriller, 28 Weeks Later. But Intruders is an entirely different matter, though seemingly through no fault of his own. With a ghostly presence that is Hollow Face – but a possibly not so supernatural villain after all – the persistent psychological ambiguity of this central figure diminishes the dread and fixation on the story, which is an essential component of horror in movies.

And in a likely case of dipping into far too many genres and failing to fully satisfy with any one of them, Fresnadillo would seem to be spreading himself too thin. As he goes about with Intruders, attempting to inject dramatic weight into a story that subsequently rings as hollow as the moniker of its designated title character.

Millennium Entertainment

Rated R

2 stars

For official trailer:

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network's Arts Express.