What a snoozer.
I don't like to be that blunt, or that unkind, at the start of a movie review, but after two full visits with the new thriller Intruders, I still can barely remember what the movie is about. One would certainly hope for a more compelling, or indeed sentient, horror tale from the director of Intacto and 28 Weeks Later, but for all his cool frame compositions and creepy mood lighting, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is still saddled with one painfully dry screenplay this time out.
Clive Owen plays a concerned father named John Farrow; his clever little girl has a gift for spinning creepy stories with which to entertain her friends and family -- but at night she suffers from horrible visions. At first skeptical, John grows to believe that an actual (physical) intruder is involved, and it sure seems like he's right -- or not. Intruders is at its best when it's being ambiguous: how John sets up security cameras to track the intruder -- and then he still doesn't believe what he sees. Meanwhile little Mia grows more troubled; John's wife starts to get worried; and ... oh yes, there's a clunky subplot involving a similarly afflicted kid down in Spain, but it fits into the main story with little to no regard for cohesive storytelling.
Beautifully shot but dramatically inert, Intruders features some strong work from Owen, Carice Van Houten as his wife Sue, and Kerry Fox as a well-intentioned psychiatrist, but even the film's most interesting idea -- that creatures can sometimes spring from our own fertile imagination -- has been covered much more interestingly in earlier films. (Pick most Stephen King stories.) The two-headed plot structure doesn't do Intruders many favors, although the novelty of seeing sort of a "mirror image" terror tale take place is sort of interesting, for a few minutes. I suppose. The clunky editorial style doesn't help the story all that much, which, if you think about it, is sort of a dead-serious multi-national live-action take on Pixar's Monsters Inc. Only not nearly as fun as that idea sounds.
Although reasonably creepy at its best moments (some of the creature effects work pretty well, or maybe my eyes were just desperate for something nifty to look at), Intruders suffers from dreary pacing, unfocused ideas, and a clumsy narrative presentation that prevents either of its two story threads from blossoming into something, well, interesting. Partially recommended for a few unsettling moments and several good performances, especially for horror fans or Clive Owen junkies, but only if you're at home, on the couch, with a strong cup of coffee in hand.