SXSW Review: Intruders

It’s got all the right dramatic elements: atmosphere, mythology, real world drama. It’s just boring.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel


In theory, Intruders seems to do everything right. In execution though it’s just boring. Two seemingly parallel stories follow a Spanish boy (with subtitles) and an American girl each plagued by a monster who appears in their bedrooms.

Juan (Izan Corchero) is the Spanish boy who chases a monster out his window in the opening tease. We keep cutting back to Juan and his mother Luisa (Pilar Lopez de Ayala) dealing with Juan’s monstrous visions, but the main story is Mia (Ella Purnell). She has a visit from the monster Hollowface and despite her father John (Clive Owen)’s attempt to fight him off, she’s traumatized into silence and John’s marriage to Sue (Carice Van Houten) is tested.

I’m sorry, but Hollowface is not the next big horror icon. He’s a guy in a hood with weird fingers. I think the fisherman slicker guy in I Know What You Did Last Summer was scarier. This is definitely not the new Freddy. He actually has no face, hence the name, but lacking character isn’t a definition of character.

Also, I get setting a mood and atmosphere but it’s really boring buildup. John or Mia creep towards the opening in a dark room, ugh. It’s not scary just because they take their time being cautious. I don’t believe in imaginary monsters anyway so I’m not scared.

A potentially interesting aspect of the story also falls flat. Hollowface steals the Mia’s voice so they take her to a therapist to explore real world solutions to her trauma. In The Exorcist when doctors tried to explain Regan’s possession, that was interesting. What do you do when the supernatural invades the real world? Here it feels like a half assed school counselor reading out of a text book. Or rather, out of other movies she’s seen about psychological explanations.

The Spanish story eventually comes together with the American one. It’s got all the right dramatic elements: atmosphere, mythology, real world drama. It’s just boring. And there’s a stringy score that rises up to the scares for fake tension.

Man, Clive Owen. He did two great movies, Children of Men and Shoot ‘Em Up, but they didn’t do well so now he just ends up in standard genre fare, that also doesn’t do great but I guess a little better. The International, Killer Elite, Intruders. Maybe that Hemingway movie for HBO will be good.