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Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/17/2012
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/24/2012
When you think of the iconic characters in modern horror films, who comes to mind? Michael Myers? Jason Voorhees? Freddy Krueger? Chucky? Due to their iconic movies and the longevity of their series, these characters have become synonymous with horror movies. So, what would it take for a new character to stand along side these stalwarts? There have been pretenders like Dr. Giggles, Harry Warden, and Sammi Curr who have come and gone, but filmmakers keep trying to introduce the next villain, which is why we get creations like "Hollowface" in the film Intruders.
While visiting her grandparents, young Mia (Ella Purnell) finds a small wooden box which contains a handwritten story about someone named "Hollowface", a creature who is stalking a young boy. Mia returns home to her parents, John (Clive Owen) and Susanna (Carice van Houten), where she begins to believe that Hollowface is in her closet. At first, John dismisses these claims, until he sees Hollowface for himself. Meanwhile, a young Spanish boy, Juan (Izan Corchero), is also seeing Hollowface, with the creature having entered his bedroom. His mother, Luisa (Pilar Lopez de Ayala), consults a priest (Daniel Bruhl), but it doesn't help. Who is Hollowface and why is he after these children?
Intruders comes from Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo whose last film was28 Weeks Later. I really enjoyed that movie and looked forward to Fresnadillo tackling a supernatural horror film. Let's face it, despite the fact that we are inundated with horror movies every week (and this number is growing thanks to streaming services), we don't get enough supernatural ones, and a very, very small percentage of those are even watchable.
Well, Intruders is watchable, but it's certainly a disappointment. Fresnadillo still retains an interesting visual style (sort of -- more on that in a moment), but the movie really falls apart in the storytelling department. First of all, the two different stories don't gel soon enough. They are linked by their commonality of "Hollowface" and we hope that they will converge at some point, but it comes far too late. That is, unless you can figure out what the bit twist is, and most viewers probably will. The ultimate lack of surprise makes the fact that we've sat through what feels like two separate movies frustrating. Mia's story is more interesting than Juan's, and I felt that the movie really slowed when the focus was on the boy. (To the credit of writers Nicolas Casariego & Jaime Marques, the two halves show the difference between dealing with a problem in a scientific way and in a religious manner.) One would think that the film's revelatory scene would solve any problems, but it just creates more in Intruders. We learn how Mia and Juan are connected, but it does very little to explain who or what Hollowface is. The basic elements are obvious, but when you really think about it, you realize that the movie doesn't make any sense.
And then we have the look of Hollowface. When he appears to Mia, he looks like a big guy wearing a hooded rain slicker -- sort of like a more streamlined version of the Fisherman from I Know What You Did Last Summer. When Juan sees him, he moves exactly like the hooded monster from The Frighteners, and that's all that I could think of during those scenes. Fresnadillo sets up some nice shots, some of which offer very literate imagery, but the design of Hollowface almost seems lazy.
Somewhere within Intruders were the elements for a good supernatural horror film, as it offered a boogeyman in the closet, a rather unique father/daughter bond, and a nice approach to the age-old idea of childhood fears. But, the result is a very muddled film which takes what is essentially very little story and spreads it out across not one, but two narratives. The result is a movie which contains a few creepy shots, but otherwise never moved me or made me feel involved in the story. Make sure that these Intruders stay outside.
Intruders offers a striking art-deco Jesus on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Millennium Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. This is a dark movie, but the image is never overly dark and the action is always visible. The colors look good, although we are treated to few bright tones. The image has a nice depth to it and the level of detail is good, as we can make out textures on objects (the comes in handy, as the movie features many extreme close ups of the handwritten story). The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround sound effects come to life during the Hollowface attack scenes, although they aren't extremely detailed. Sure, they are adequate, but I like to have more depth to surround effects. The stereo effects fare somewhat better, as they do a good job of alerting us to sounds coming from off-screen. The subwoofer effects during the horror moments are palpable, but never wall-rattling.
The Intruders Blu-ray Disc contains only two extra features. "Intruders: An Inside Look" (8 minutes) offers comments from Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, along with Writers Nicolas Casariego & Jaime Marques, in addition to some of the cast. There is a discussion of the film's story and themes, with an emphasis on the blending of the two plot-lines. There is only a little bit of on-set footage here. (How had Clive Owen not seen 28 Weeks Later?) "Who is Hollowface? The Making of Intruders" (20 minutes) contains interviews with many of the same speakers as the previous featurette, the difference here being that they are speaking Spanish. This piece goes more in-depth in its discussion of the movie and offers more behind-the-scenes footage. In addition to the interviews, we get a look at how the Hollowface effects were done.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long