Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Whether a haunted house movie or home invasion thriller, virtually every film depicting terror in the household treads similar thematic territory, acting as an admonitory or parable of any perceived threat to the nuclear family dynamic. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, occasionally lecturing childless couples on the importance of breeding or reaffirming the general importance of a heteronormative union unfettered by the "other." But the basic morality is clear: in order for a child to be healthy, normal and productive, they need two straight, loving parents with the psychological complexity of the Cleavers. In contextualizing the nature of fear without straying far from the notion that "terror starts at home," Intruders reiterates this sentiment, tackling the notion that parental neglect or aberrance is the sole reason for emotional instability and behavioural inconsistency in adults, not only for their generation, but for generations to come. Detailing parallel stories without a great deal of mystery or subtlety, 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo details the night terrors of a young British girl named Mia (Ella Purnell) and Juan (Izan Corchero), a young Spanish boy. Both children have an intense attachment to a parent of the opposite sex (no accident), whose intense connection with the child allows them to see and share the anxiety of the manifested, ghostly apparition: a hooded, faceless man. While Juan's mother, Luisa (Pilar Lopez de Ayala), seemingly finds terror in the religious implications of being a single mother, Mia's father, John (Clive Owen), struggles with the notion of imperfection and his dormant anxieties, which is something exacerbated by a workplace accident reminiscent of a childhood trauma. Because Fresnadillo and the actors are far more invested in the concept of parental inconsistency as the impetus behind childhood fear, the actual horror-thriller dynamic of the film is inconsistent at best. The scares rely on repeat "boogeyman in the closet" jump thrills and the integration of secondary characters istagged on merely to make the central thematic vein work in basic terms. There is something intriguing, if sanctimonious and solipsistic, about the overall message of the film, but the incomplete melding of its story with its moral plea makes it a tough pill to swallow. The Blu-Ray comes with a promotional reel, as well as a "Making of" where, unsurprisingly, Fresnadillo and the various actors talk about the nature of fear and analyzing oneself. If only said analysis could see the bigger picture.
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