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John’s Horror Corner: Intruders (2011)

September 27, 2012

MY CALL:  It took me a long time to deduce the point of this movie.  Once I did, there was no satisfaction as there should have been.  It’s not that anything was presented poorly per se.  I think it’s that they didn’t present what they needed to in order to sell me on this story.  However, it was quite creepy.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  Other stories about domestic “entities” hunting children include Boogeyman (2005), Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2011; The Hof also reviewed this), and Hide and Seek (2005).

The opening scene of this movie casts a less serious mood than one would expect from an R-rated horror.  Two children (one 12, one 8) living in different countries (England and Spain) are visited nightly by a faceless being who wants to take them—or possession them (?).  Each child has found a convincingly similar story about the faceless fiend.  Quickly quelling this immature storytelling notion is the disturbing faceless imagery of “Hollowface,” our spectral intruder named as such by both children.

The young English girl learns the name “Hollowface” from a handwritten story she found in a box that was in a rotten out tree hole, completely out of sight, ten feet above the ground.  Interesting place for a box, right?  What is it about horror movies and boxes?  Are boxes inherently terrifying and I just didn’t get the memo?  Seven, the Cube franchise, the Hellraiser franchise, The Possession…lots of mean boxes out there.

The parents of each child (which include Clive Owen) have their own passed-down methods of alleviating their children’s fears: nostalgic children’s books, burning an effigy in the yard (a bit extreme if you ask me), closing your eyes and counting to five—none of them seem to work.  Then some strange things start happening with the parents, too: a near death experience for Clive Owen’s work buddy and the Spanish boy’s mom has some issues finding credibility when claiming demonic possession.
Moments like this, pointing to the hooded shadow in the background, tease us into wondering if this is a supernatural horror or a psychological thriller.

The children’s childish(?) fears worsen toward mania and the parents have difficulty handling their terror.  But what happens when the parents start seeing the same thing?  Both children’s parents adopt increasingly paranoid, but protective, behavior.  The British family turns to the police, the Spanish family to the church; both fail to find credibility in the parents’ stories which, in their mind, is a case of the children’s story “infecting” the parents.  When efforts to help these families inexplicably fail, they are considered crazy and/or psychological explanations are forced upon them.

As the movie wears on, the parents’ sanity wears thin.  You cans see it in the parents’ faces.  Pale, sleepless and perpetually scared and paranoid.  It really helped out the already successfully creepy tone.

The child actors both do splendidly in being credibly horrified while receiving a lot of screen time.  Throughout the process the audience questions the notion of “Hollowface.”  Is it just a common term (i.e., a title like the boogeyman) used by some analyst through whose eyes we perceive this story (i.e., this movie’s perspective)?  Or is the story told through the eyes of the children and parents?  Or just the children?  Or just the parents?  Is the common element between both families—this specifically named villain with an unmistakable appearance—the clue that tells us that this is really happening to these people?  Or is it just a device, a paralleling machination dreamt up by a screenplay writer or director to lead us into a sense of awareness and comfortable conclusion before pulling the rug out from under our feet?

The mystery is revealed to us, and gracefully so.  However, I can’t help but to disagree with the direction they chose thereafter.  All in all, a nice idea delivered too off-target to receive a serious endorsement from me.  But director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later, the upcoming Highlander) sets the mood fantastically.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2014 9:29 pm

    Love your write-up and totally agree…as per usual. You sure we’re not related?

    • johnleavengood permalink
      April 18, 2014 9:39 pm

      My brother from a British mother?


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