Intruders (2011)

Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Writer: Nicolás Casariego, Jaime Marques
Cast: Clive Owen, Ella Purnell, Carice van Houten, Daniel Brühl, Pilar López de Ayala, Izán Corchero, Kerry Fox
Seen on: 22.12.2019

Juan (Izán Corchero) lives with his mother Luisa (Pilar López de Ayala) in Madrid. Juan starts seeing a shrouded, faceless figure who comes for him at night. Luisa grows increasingly frantic and asks Father Antonio (Daniel Brühl) for help. In London, Mia (Ella Purnell) finds a book with stories about Hollowface in a tree at her grandparents’ place. When she starts to see Hollowface herself, it’s only her father John (Clive Owen) who believes that there actually is an intruder.

I stumbled upon Intruders quite by chance and was surprised that I never actually heard about it. I assumed it disappeared because it sucked, despite the excellent cast, but wanted to see it anyway. Thankfully it turns out, it’s actually quite good.

The film poster showing a man without eyes or a mouth.


I was really pleasanlty surprised by Intruders. Not that it’s amazingly great, but it is a strong film and much better than I thought it would be after hearing exactly nothing about it. Not only is the cast great, there are some interesting attempts in the way the film tells the story that may not always work out the way they were supposed to, but do add a lot to the film. Plus, it has its creepy moments as a horror film should have.

To me, the most interesting thing was the way the film tackles trauma and how that trauma can be inherited. This aspect of the film could have been enhanced if they hadn’t tried to keep it a secret or rather, make it a revelation that Juan is actually John as a child. For one, that twist wasn’t much of a twist to begin with, and two, having that information out in the open could have helped with strengthening that angle in the narration. It worked anyway: Hollowface is ultimately Juan’s unresolved trauma that comes back to haunt Mia – how literally or symbolically you want to read that is left up to you. The fact that trauma silences and can only be resolved when we find words for it, may not be the most insightful of realizations, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Carice van Houten, Ella Purnell and Clive Owen in the film.

The way the trauma that Juan (and also his mother!) experienced is dealt with very differently in Spain 30 years before Mia has to face that same trauma herself in London without ever coming directly into contact with its source. One answer here is religion, the other psychiatry and technology. Neither are quite enough, though. Just facing the monster isn’t enough, you actually do need some tools in the fight against it. But this theme isn’t really developed enough, either.

In any case, Intruders is engaging. Clive Owen and Ella Purnell are really great as the father-daughter-team, and Daniel Brühl shows off his impressive (at least to a non-native) Spanish. The two mothers do take a little too much of a backseat in the script, unfortunately, but Carice van Houten and Pilar López de Ayala are really good, too. The film looks pretty good, and I liked that it isn’t shy with its monster. I found myself paying attention to it, despite thinking it would be a film that I would watch more as background entertainment. And that’s a really big compliment.

Pilar López de Ayala and Izán Corchero in the film.

Summarizing: Worth watching.

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