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Intruders is, fortunately, a better movie than the generically bland title suggests. In this new horror/thriller from 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, two children, a boy in Spain (Izán Corchero) and a girl in England (Ella Purnell), are both plagued by nightmares of something called Hollow Face, who is more or less what he sounds like: a dark, spectral, faceless creature sporting the hot-button fashion choice of late—a hood. Somehow, both children, blessed with vivid imaginations, know with absolute certainty that Hollow Face is out to steal them away to his lair forever, and grab their faces for his own.

It’s all easily enough written off as nothing more than bad dreams until the boy’s mother (Pilar López de Ayala) and the girl’s father (Clive Owen) start seeing Hollow Face themselves in the waking world around their children. The boy’s mom turns to a kindly young priest to see if through either confession or prayer they can somehow exorcise this demon from their lives. The girl’s father turns to a home security system to see if they can actually catch the bastard.

Hollow Face himself as a character is slightly uninteresting and will likely not be that frightening to the seasoned moviegoer (imagine an early rejected concept of a Dementor, but with jeans and boots), and in this case the characters are there to serve the plot, not the other way around. So the fun here lies more in piecing together what’s happening; who or what Hollow Face is; and what connection, if any, the two children have to one another.

In the post-Lost pop-culture landscape, a film like this with such a mystery can generate scares from an unanticipated quarter, namely a fear in the audience that what we’re watching cannot possibly be adequately explained with any amount of logic, and that we may wind up at the wrong end of a shaggy dog story gone maddeningly metaphorical. Thankfully that’s not the case here, as the resolution does satisfy and make sense, albeit in that special kind of movie-sense, certainly not to be mistaken for the rules that govern our actual day-to-day lives.

With Intruders , Fresnadillo has made a small but quality film that will make you furrow your brow as much as bite your nails. Just don’t expect its effect to last any longer or be any weightier than a half-remembered dream.

Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Writer: Nicolás Casariego & Jaime Marques
Starring: Clive Owen, Pilar López de Ayala, Ella Purnell, Izán Corchero
Release Date: Mar. 30, 2012 (limited)