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Intruders

I’m officially sold on Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, now that he has sandwiched two solid thrillers around one horror masterpiece. The middle entry was a sequel that outdid its predecessor by being smarter and taking more risks. That marvelous work was 2007’s “28 Weeks Later”, the follow-up to Danny Boyle’s fine “28 Days Later” from 2003. Before that, Fresnadillo’s feature debut reached American shores in 2002 with “Intacto” starring Max von Sydow. Max plays Samuel Berg, a man who is able to steal other people’s “luck”, by placing a hand on them. This nearly forgotten supernatural delight, sports an astounding scene of people racing through a densely wooded area–blindfolded. It’s unbearable tense and absolutely unforgettable. Juan Carlos continues his five-year pattern(hopefully we don’t have to wait until 2017 for film #4)with this year’s “Intruders”. Like “Intacto” before it, it includes a mixture of Spanish and English language and is steeped in the paranormal. This time round, however, you’ll find yourself asking what is real and what is imagined. There are two distinct plotlines that eventually crash together in A-HA! fashion. The movie is effectively macabre and creepy as hell—often resembling something the great Guillermo del Toro might have dreamed up. And that should be taken as high praise, indeed.               Clive Owen is John Farrow, a London-based builder who saves a co-worker from a certain death in an early scene. The near tragedy begins to haunt his dreams and soon seems to resurrect the phantasm of Hollow Face, an otherworldly creature that we’ve been introduced to in the film’s opening section involving a young boy and his mother. Hollow Face attempts to kidnap that child on more than one occasion only to be thwarted after some close calls. And now Hollow Face has set its sights on John’s 12-year-old daughter(perfectly cast Ella Purnell). What is Hollow Face and where does the ghostly visage emerge from(the monster’s penchant for appearing from dark corners and open closets is the stuff of every child’s nightmares)? And is Hollow Face real, imaginary, or something frighteningly in between? Faith and religion come into play in both stories(as it always does), and eventually the sanity of Farrow, when a video surveillance system shows nothing after John convinces himself, his wife(the stunning and oft-disrobed Carice van Houten), and the local authorities that an actual man is pursuing his child. Is he right? It’s all part of this eerie adventure to discover what’s what.               Unfortunately, the release of “Intruders” was botched by its distributor, not unlike the poorly handled “Intacto” a decade before it. If you only know Fresnadillo from his scary and gory “28 Weeks Later”, you are missing out on a director who possesses a deep reservoir of talent. And he can call on that gift without relying on the sight of a single drop of crimson. “Intruders” is leave-the-lights-on chilling for almost its entire running time. What lurks around the corner of a room, and what hides in the recesses of a mind are given equal measure. Both plotlines are loaded with rich images and contain a variety of tricks up the sleeve. A more than capable cast of both English and Spanish actors give the suspenser an eclectic international feel. I recommend that you watch the unjustly ignored “Intruders”. But with the lights on…and preferably not alone.    Grade:  B

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2 comments on “Intruders

  1. Sounds like a good movie and worth the time to watch, but I think the wife has pre-vetoed this one based on the creepiness. Keep up the good work!

  2. Understood, Brian. It got a lot of sub-par notices upon its release, but it has a few supporters. The oft-reliable Manohla Dargis of The New York Times is one of them. ML

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