Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s new horror film Intruders seems to be an attempt to bridge British and Spanish horror motifs: the haunted house of the former, and the significance of children of the latter. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite succeed. The premise is fairly strong: parallel stories are told, one of young Juan in Spain, who invents the story of Hollowface, a creature that is trying to take Juan away to steal his face. The other is of Mia, a young British girl who finds the story of Hollowface and begins to expand it, and then believes this creature inhabits her closet. The first scene is extremely frightening, and the threat and fear is maintained in the Spanish section. But it isn’t quite maintained for the British section. This could be because the Hollowface rendering of the Spanish section was is physically insubstantial enough to be frightening, the rendering in the British section it too corporeal for what it is alleged to represent.
It could be seen as a meditation on storytelling and the effect of a child’s imagination on adult life, and from that perspective the film has more success. The fears we have as children often remain with us or resurface through traumatic events. But the film just isn’t consistently frightening enough, tips its hand too early, and makes it difficult hard to emotionally invest in the characters for whom there is little fear.