Intruders (2011)

The word Intruders can mean a lot of things, it’s a nice title for a film that gets a lot more ambiguous than it’s standard horror vibe may put out. Here ‘intruders’ on the surface level refers to a faceless marauding monster that terrorizes two children at night by showing up in their bedrooms, but curiously they are in completely different regions, one a girl (Ella Purnell) in London and the other a boy (Izán Corchero) somewhere far away in Spain. What is this evil cloaked figure, where does it come from, why does it only torment these poor kids and what’s the connection between them? These are questions with answers that lie like dark secrets within this shadowy, challenging narrative and I was pleased to note that this is anything but a routine monster/ghost story and has some disturbing, sad revelations that are hard to see coming. The boy in Spain wrestles with this demon as his mother (Pilar Lopez De Alaya) confers with a concerned local priest (Daniel Bruhl) about the situation. Over in London the young girl’s mother (Carice Van Houten) and father (Clive Owen) grow increasingly hopeless and desperate as this thing won’t stop showing up in their daughter’s bedroom and her mental state gets worse and worse. In this case the word ‘Intruders’ sort of means memories more than anything else, decades old trauma passed from one generation to the next until it’s somehow resolved and the monsters can be put to rest. I like the two different locations, bustling metropolitan London and creaky, eerie rural Spain juxtapose nicely while the multinational, eclectic cast are all fantastic with Owen a standout in the film’s key role. It’s a great script with some truly unsettling fright sequences, a twist ending that I dare you to guess even a few minutes ahead of time and some emotional catharsis in the third act that hits home, hard. Highly recommended.

-Nate Hill

Brian De Palma’s Domino

I expected something mediocre from Brian De Palma’s Domino given the overall reputation, but I think people are just comparing it to his legendary pantheon of influential films because, for the most part, this is one intensely exciting crackerjack thriller. It sees Copenhagen detective Nicolaj Coster-Waldau joining forces with former Game Of Thrones costar Carice Van Houton to avenge the death of his partner, murdered by a known terrorism affiliate (Eriq Ebouaney). The problem is this guy is on CIA payroll and pretty soon his handler (a smarmy, scene stealing Guy Pearce) scoops him up for some other covert games in North Africa, forcing the pair to go rogue in order to both kill him and stop another impending terrorist attack. Now the film isn’t perfect, there’s a humdrum midsection where not much happens beyond people talking, planning, going through subplot motions and running about. But that weaker part is bookended by the absolutely sensational first and third acts, wonderfully shot and calibrated set pieces that feel like De Palma is steadily and assuredly at the helm making his suspenseful magic once again. The opener sees Waldau and his partner chasing the suspect all over a darkened tenement building, full of crackling tension, brutal violence and dynamic visual composition. The grand finale is set in a roaring bullfighter stadium somewhere in North Africa as the two race to smoke out the terrorists and stop them, with a drone sequence and villain death that is so bombastically, dementedly De Palma I had to let out a long deranged laugh. I see just by looking at IMDb that this isn’t held in super high favour by De Palma acolytes and fair enough the man has done more innovative, captivating work but to me this is still a perfectly enthralling thriller with solid, headstrong hero work from Waldau, an emotional core from the always excellent Van Houten, a sly, sleazy turn from Pearce who is *almost* a villain and some pulse pounding, musically invigorating action sequences as only this filmmaker can bring us.

Nate Hill