Intruders (2011): A Hoodie with a Difference

Intruders 2011

Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later, Intact) this Spanish horror/thriller is ‘a tale of two children’ who both share the same boogey man in two different time periods.

At the beginning of the film we meet Juan (Izán Corchero) and his mother Luisa (Pilar López de Ayala) they live in a small flat in a building that is being worked on. Juan is writing a ‘monster’ story and reading it to his mother. After she puts him to bed and goes to leave the room, Juan asks her to leave his window open so the cat can come in out of the rain.

Juan falls asleep only to be woken up by the cats meowing. He goes out onto the scaffolding outside his window to look for his cat. He notices someone in a red hooded outfit climbing up a ladder and when he reaches Juan’s floor he goes in through Juan’s open bedroom window.

Juan runs back into the flat and can’t find the red hooded thing anywhere. He then runs into his mother’s room and finds red-hood strangling her. He yells for it to stop hurting his mum and the thing goes to attack him. Red-hood then goes back out of Juan’s bedroom window and starts moving down the scaffolding.

Red Hood trips and falls off the scaffolding and is holding on with its hands clutching the metal frame. Juan who has followed him out is also on the scaffolding and Luisa follows them both. Red-hood grabs Juan’s feet and mum grabs his hands, they then  have a tug-of-war with Juan as the rope.  Juan then wakes up shouting for his mother.

The film then jumps to a skyscraper being built in England.  John Farrow (Clive Owen) is a foreman on the high-rise building site who is showing a new chap the ropes. He heads down to call his daughter Mia (Ella Purnell) who is at her grandma’s house with mum Susanna (Carice van Houten). John has to tell Mia that he’s going to be late from work and then asks to speak to Susanna.

While mum is on the phone, there is a very ‘Alice in Wonderland’ moment where Mia goes after a cat that has gone over the back garden fence. On the other side of the fence she finds the cat is in a tree looking at something. Alice climbs it to find a hole towards the top of the tree and seeing something in the hole reaches in and retrieves it, losing her bracelet in the process.

She has found a small wooden box with a slide top. Opening it she finds a piece of paper with faded writing on it.Later she starts copying what is on the paper and presents it as a story in class the next day. She has a nightmare that night, apparently induce by the story she’s writing.

The film then goes back to Juan and Luisa. He is having nightmares as well and they are of the same creature who has invaded Mia’s dreams. He is ‘Hollow face‘ and he steals children’s faces.

Intruders is very well put together. Fresnadillo does a brilliant job of keeping track of the two intertwining stories and weaves them together perfectly. The cinematography is clear and sharp, so sharp in fact that I thought it had been shot with digital cameras. Lighting is used to great effect, dark corners, closets, a damp spot on the ceiling all look so dark that they could be entrances to some scary place.

For the night time sequences Fresnadillo used filters to replicate the darkness that night brings naturally and it was done so well that I didn’t realise that he had used filters until I watched the ‘making of’ featurette on the DVD.

The two child actors were on top form here. Their performances really helped to sell the story and the film. Ella Purnell falls into the ‘Keep an Eye on This One’ category. In another few years she’ll be giving Keira Knightly a run for her money.

Clive Owen was doing what he does best. Act. Owen is another of those actors that Hollywood still hasn’t figured out how to best use him. I have always felt he was one of those ‘real’ actors. A ‘real’ actor is one who really makes you believe he is the character he’s portraying. Unfortunately I could not warm to Carice van Houten at all. I don’t know if it is how her role was written or some other reason, but, I did not like her at all. I’ll have to see some of her other film work and see.

It was fantastic to see Kerry Fox again. I haven’t seen her since she played Juliet Miller in Shallow Grave (1994). She is a cracking good actress who really delivered in her small, but, important role.

All said, I really enjoyed the film. It hooked me from frame one and kept me guessing and riveted till the end.

My final verdict is that Intruders is a two bagger. Two large bags of popcorn and a couple of Cokes. The ride the film takes you on isn’t of a high octane variety, but, it’s harrowing enough to cause you to convulsively keep shoving  popcorn in your mouth.


Author: Michael Knox-Smith

World traveler, writer, actor, journalist. Cinephile who reviews films, television, books and interviews professionals in the industry. Member Nevada Film Critics Society