INTRUDERS (2012- Spain/U.K) D: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo.
The latest genre effort from the director of the excellent 28 WEEKS LATER (200) is a subtle and atmospheric psychological drama about the dark side of childhood and reoccurring nightmares. Beautifully shot with extremely low key lighting, the story focuses on and deeply explores the parallel traumas of two youngsters, Juan and Mia and the sanctity of the mother/son and father/daughter bond. Both children are visited nightly by a tall shrouded entity known as 'Hollowface' who needs a face badly and tries to steal one for himself. The plot is complex and psychologically twisting and the deliberate pacing allows your own mind to unspool the implications and recall the dark side of your own childhood. Clive Owen (CHILDREN OF MEN, SIN CITY) is 'John Farrow' and he takes on the battle to help his daughter 'Mia Farrow' (Ella Purnell) save face, literally. While Juan's mother turns to a priest for help and Mia's dad seeks the aid of a psychologist, both religion and science fails to resolve the ascending nightmares. In the end, love saves the day. As explained in the film ,the wild concept of 'shared dreams' is supposedly based on a true but rare mental condition. The performances and dream sequences are intense and the ending is emotionally stirring. Also stars Carice van Houton (Verhoeven's THE BLACK BOOK, HBO's GAME OF THRONES) as Owen's confused wife who is skeptical of the nocturnal threat. She also provides the film's only fleeting moment of unexpected nudity. INTRUDERS is refreshing because it is artsy filmmaking without being over-designed and too visually intricate for their own good, the way Guillermo del Toro's recent films have become (del Toro is great but his recent work is starting to look redundant. Too much of a good thing.). According to the director, the characters names are purely coincidental. (In real life, the great film director John Farrow was actress Mia Farrow's father.) Coming soon on the heels of Hammer's THE WOMAN IN BLACK, I am hopeful that this might be a trend allowing the horror genre to get back to its roots of exploring the primacy of 'fear' with richer (not digitally processed, overly tinted) cinematography and slower pacing (rejecting trendy action-style editing) to stress atmosphere and mood over shock and awe. INTRUDERS is a memorable, worthwhile film from a consistently solid director.