Intruders (2011)

(On-demand video, October 2012) If you’re wondering why this Clive Owen film was never widely distributed in North America, keep in mind a few things: First, Intruders is a modestly-budgeted European production.  Second, and perhaps most importantly, it’s an unremarkable horror movie with a confusing threat, a deceptive structure and muted chills.  There isn’t much to say about the average thrills of seeing children and their parents cope with bogeymen, especially with the by-the-numbers scare sequences.  There’s one neat twist in this film, but it pushes credibility at the same time it manages to explain a few troublesome plot points.  Indulgent viewers will feel that the film has something to say about the power of storytelling and how our minds create reality; others will just complain that the monster has no clearly-identified limits and that it seems made up as it goes along.  Fortunately, Clive Owen himself is better than the average material he’s being served, while Carice van Houten has a welcome supporting role as his wife, and Ella Purnell has a strong enough performance as a tormented girl to suggest bigger roles later in her career.  Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo knows how to create atmosphere and doesn’t embarrass himself with the limits of his budget (although some of the skyscraper scenes look a bit off from a special-effects point of view.)  Intruders ends up living in the netherworld of the unremarkable horror film: good enough to avoid disappointment (or cult-classic awfulness), but not really good enough to stick in mind aside from that troublesome plot twist.

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