Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Clive Owen Can Intrude Upon Me Any Day

You know what movie doesn’t get nearly as much love as it deserves? 28 Weeks Later. Here was a sequel to one of the decade’s most-loved game-changing horror films, made by a completely different filmmaking team with none of the original cast. It had no excuse for working, and yet in so many ways, it actually bests its predecessor.

It took four years for director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo to make a follow-up, but thankfully, he was kind enough to excuse the long waiting period by casting as his lead one of cinema’s most interesting (okay fine: hottest) actors. 

Clive Owen in a thriller directed by the man who helmed 28 Weeks Later? I. Am. In.

Quick Plot: A little boy in Spain tells his single mother a fairly gruesome bedtime story about a monster named Hollowface, only to then maybe be chased by said mystery man on his rainy fire escape. 

Cut to a middle-class British neighborhood where construction worker Clive Owen (cue drool) dotes upon his 12-year-old daughter Mia, the type of cool kid who becomes obsessed with the very same Hollowface glimpsed at in the prologue. After the sort of near-death experience I assume every construction worker faces on a daily basis, Clive Owen (that’s all he ever needs to be to me) comes home to find Mia in a panic convinced that there’s a monster in her closet.

She is right.

After a few dangerous but non-fatal encounters with a hooded punch-happy giant, Mia and Clive Owen begin to accummulate more suspicion than sympathy. Alongside this story we return to the opening boy and mom who are unsuccessfully seeking aide from the Catholic church and the smarmy soldier from Inglorious Basterds.

Intruders is a very unconventional film that essentially creates its own fairy tale. The story of Hollowface is recognizable to any kid with an imagination, yet the unraveling of the British and Spanish narrative work together in an unexpected way. The film boasts plenty of chilling buildup, but it’s hard to nab just what genre Intruders falls into. It almost calls to mind a more earth-bound Pan’s Labyrinth in how it creates a sort of side universe in the land of the Grimm Brothers. 

It’s hard to go into too much detail without revealing some of the film’s surprises, so I’ll waltz away (and in my head, I’m doing so with Clive Owen) before spoiling anything. Intruders isn’t by any means the scariest film of the year or anything overly groundbreaking, but it’s wonderfully atmospheric and refreshingly new in its approach to what could have been a very lazily told tale. That Fresnadillo needs to keep this up.

Especially if it involves a certain dark-haired hunk.

High Notes
Obviously, Clive Owen is his usual marvelous self but young actress Ella Purnell s also quite good here, proving to be a very intriguing and sympathetic presence in a film that depends an awful lot upon her

There’s a bit of a reveal (not really a twist per say) that makes pretty perfect sense. On one hand, I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming but on the other, I’m hardly annoyed because it’s done so well that it never felt like a gimmick. Strong storytelling all around

Low Notes
Black Book/Black Death's Carice Van Houten is a fantastically interesting actress, making it a shame to see her presence be so wasted here as the shrill wife

Lessons Learned
Clive Owen is a god. I knew that already, but I’m just reminding the rest of you

Other stuff might happen, but Clive Owen is still a god

I’ve learned all I needed to know

Intruders in an excellently fresh film that is unsettling without ever being mean. Due to some aspects of its story, it’s also the kind of film that will most likely benefit from a rewatch. I can also see this as a decent gateway horror movie, the kind that a newbie can watch en route to the hill of Pet Sematary. The movie is currently streaming on Netflix and well worth your 100 minutes. Especially since about 84 of them include this:

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