Review: Frustrating false starts bring down Intruders

Intruders explores the power of a child’s imagination through horror and psychodrama — although the concept appears to have been overly ambitious for director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. Viewers will leave theaters frustrated, and a little bored, too.

The film crosses a continent, focusing on a mother (Pilar Lopez de Ayala) and her son Juan (Izan Corchero) in Spain, and a father (Clive Owen) and his daughter Mia (Ella Purnell) in England. They are plagued by visits from Hollow Face, a monstrous ghost who taunts the children like a modern-day boogeyman. But unlike a boogeyman, this ghost-like creature can also be seen by the parents, who must fight to protect their children from his terrifying appearances.

It’s not nearly so much a thriller as it is a psychodrama. The film fizzles out quickly, because its concept lacks depth and plot solidarity. A few great, thrilling scenes don’t manage to root the story of Intruders for it to have any impact. In other words, there are plenty of great scenes, but none of them are really relevant or important. Hollow Face appears to be more of a torment than an actual danger.

When Hollow Face first appears in Mia’s room, he only creates a disturbance, making noise and thus ruffling Mia. In response, her parents call the police and later install video cameras throughout the house, including her bedroom. But like so many of Intruders’ aspects, nothing comes as a result of this move — the cameras don’t factor into the plot at all.

Hollow Face — the antagonist himself– suffers most in the undeveloped film. Not only is his physical appearance unimpressive, but also his motivations are never clear to the audience. He merely comes and goes, causing anxiety by appearing before the children, in the safety of their bedrooms, without causing any real damage to the children or families. He is as arbitrary as the storyline he’s depicted to be disrupting.

The plot falls just short of entertaining multiple times: In one scene, Hollow Face is in the little girl’s room with her father—and all he does is rub his hand across her face before jumping out the window. It’s unsettling, sure, but without any real danger and without a clear direction for the plot, it’s never clear what’s at stake in this film.