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Intruders

About.com Rating .5 Star Rating

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Intruders

“Clive Owen... what happened?”

This was the reaction of my friend and colleague Mike Sampson after he asked me what I thought of Intruders. I didn't give him much commentary, just shook my head. Only a few years ago he was rumored to be the next James Bond. He got an Oscar nomination for Closer and starred in 2006's best film Children of Men. Now he is on to the next stage of his career: making crap.

Intruders is a horror film with no discernible scares, dumb characters and a rancid script. Despite the fact that I watch movies for a living I never – NEVER – am the guy who can predict a story twist. And yet I saw the (alleged) surprise a mile away. I guess director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and writers Nicolas Casariego and Jaime Marques think that most people will never realize that “Juan” is “John” in Spanish. I mean, come on – who speaks Spanish?

Intruders intercuts two stories of a British and Spanish family in crisis. In England, Clive Owen's daughter senses she is being watched and is terrified of someone in her closet at night. The scenes of high tension are kinda like the ones from Monsters, Inc. but bleached of any intrigue. Things get odd when, despite taking extraordinary security measures, the intruder reappears. Is this frightening figure from somewhere other than this world?

This boogeyman is a cloaked, blankly-visaged figure called “Hollowface.” He is summoned to our British suburb because the daughter reads a child's story hidden in a tree, written by a Spanish kid tormented by the same figure.

Now, I'm no writing prof, and far be it from me to critique a small child's scribblings, particularly when they are suffering the mental anguish of paranormal intimidation – but this kid's prose is just awful. He starts every sentence with the same word. And that word is “Hollowface.” As in “Hollowface lurks in dark corners,” and “Hollowface will steal the face right off of your head.” Seriously, you can make a drinking game with this movie, doing a shot every time someone says the word “face.” Most risible is when the endless descriptions of Hollowface reach their logical conclusion, “Hollowface didn't even have a face!” This howler is spoken a minimum of three times.

What's even more annoying is that the “story” is read by the little British girl, played by Ella Purnell, but whose character's name is Mia Farrow – no I'm not joking. Fresnadillo directs Purnell such that she reads quickly, landing hard on the word “face.” Over and over this girl kept saying “face.” The only reaction I had while watching Intruders was to start muttering back the word “face” at the screen. I didn't jump at the scares, I didn't laugh at the jokes, I certainly didn't cry at the drama, all I did was mumble like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator. “Face.” “Face.” “Hollowface.” “Hollowface.” “He didn't even have a face!”

Thank God for that, though, because this bit of foolishness is the only thing that makes this film even slightly memorable. The special effects look cheap and even the creepy Spanish church fails to impress. When the big weepy father-daughter drama at the end started up (bawling in a rain-soaked fantasy underworld, if memory serves) the audience at my screening couldn't contain their laughter.

I'm sure Clive Owen still has some A-List material in him, but shame on him for making this film. He had to have read the script before agreeing and I'm sure it was just as dumb in print as it is on screen.

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