This synopsis (indeed the review) is a spoiler, so if you don’t want to know the end it’s best not to read this before you see the film. This is a Spanish film about two children, one in Spain and one in England. The Spanish lad has nightmares about a hooded intruder in his room and he cannot catch him. His mother takes him to the church but the priests can’t help. In England a girl has visions of a hooded intruder and she calls him Hollowface. The father (Clive Owen) helps his daughter fight the intruder. The girl is taken to a psychiatrist and the camera installed in her bedroom reveals that Owen is fighting no-one. The Spanish boy and Clive Owen are the same person. The hooded visitor in Spain is the Spanish boy’s father trying to get to him.
Not well received by critics, but I found it enjoyable. It’s labelled as a supernatural thriller, but it’s really a psychological mystery story and it’s effective. If a film like this cannot be scary then it should keep you guessing and this film does that. It leads you like a thread through a labyrinth of clues and these give the film the appearance of a symbolic ritual. It reminds me in particular of a horror film in the 1980s (I can’t remember the title). It was about a girl whose crayonings of a picture created a horror scenario which depended on how she had to finish it. In Intruders we get Harry Potter suburbs and an ordinary household where domestic details seem to emphasize the threat of otherworldliness such as ghostly hooded visitors. Interestingly, what we don’t get is American horror familiarities, it’s a Spanish film so the bogeyman looks like the monster from that Goya painting (see Pan’s Labyrinth). Unlike priests in American films, the Spanish priests are not weepy eyed and credulous, they are hard bitten and sceptical and think they are dealing with a case for the psychiatrist. Since The Exorcist it seems obligatory to show psychiatrists as well meaning but rather wimpy people and so they are in this film. The special effects are confined to arty intrusions into everyday life: the Arthur Rackham-like tree coming to life and the liquid shadow of the bogeyman, there is no idiotic overkill. The Spanish lad clambers onto the iron scaffolding outside his window, and as an adult welder on high rise girders he has another vision of Hollowface: childhood and adulthood on iron beams, then the natural resolution in the branches of a tree – quite symbolic. The boy and Clive Owen being the same person is an interesting touch, I assumed that they were different people.
A fascinating horror fantasy.