Intruders Review: Face Invader
Stylish and atmospheric, this is a well-written and carefully shot psychological thriller which, despite promising start, suffers from a tragic lack of the goosebump factor.
Intruders is an anti-fairy tale set in both Spain and England, with the story constantly hopping back and forth between two families who, despite their differing nationalities, share one common problem: Hollow Face. This ghostly ghoul preys on the facial features of unsuspecting children and he’s plaguing the minds of two young kids, both of whom suffer the same visceral nightmares and are certain of the shadowy monster’s existence in the real world.
Over in Spain, the religious mother of little Juan (Izan Corchero) relies on the help of the Church to rid her son of Hollow Face’s presence. Meanwhile in England’s green and not so pleasant land, 12-year-old Mia (Ella Purnell) finds a scrawled story about HF stuffed down the trunk of a tree. After reading the story, she suffers at the hands of the faceless beast in her own bedroom. The fiend!
Daddy Clive Owen (Closer, Children of Men) has been having a tough time at work but is always alert to the needs of his beloved baby girl. But after coming to her rescue on more than one occasion, question marks begin to hang over else can actually see Hollow Face…cue plenty of ambiguity, trips to the psychiatrist and nothing much making you jump.
The film may be a tad predictable as it takes its twists and turns back and forth between reality and imagination, but it is a very watchable exploration of the blurry line between the two. Irrational childhood fears about the beast under the bed or inside the wardrobe are exploited to their fullest and will have even the sturdiest horror fan thinking back to a time when they were scared of “the dark corner in the bedroom” where evil surely lies in wait. Surely.
Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and cinematographer Enrique Chediak are masters of light and dark, applying shadow liberally, but with carefully placed brush strokes. It’s also refreshing to see CGI used in a reserved and effective manner for once. Hollow Face drips in sinister ethereal cloaks in his Spanish form, wafting about the house like the shadows he is so easily mistaken for in the brain of a child. Also acting in favor of this in this thriller (not horror) are some admirable performances from its young cast; It can’t be easy acting opposite thin air and this young pair look suitably terrified opposite their invisible respective nemeses.
It is, however, worth bearing in mind that you may only be scared by this film if you are the same age as its anxious protagonists. And the “surprising” twist at the end may not be altogether that surprising but with a strong cast and distinctive style, at least you’ll have enjoyed watching the journey leading up to it.