Review: The Intruder

Written and directed by Natalia Meta, the story of Inés (Erica Rivas), a young woman who after a traumatic episode during a trip with her partner begins to confuse herself between the real and the imaginary. Also starring: Guillermo Arengo, Mirta Busnelli, Daniel Hendler, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Agustín Rittano and Cecilia Roth.

Even from the very beginning this film has a lingering darkness to it, the opening creates an atmosphere akin to Rosemary’s Baby, there’s that classically suspicious and ominous tone that leads you in the direction of an undefined, impending danger. It sits very comfortably in between horror and thriller, its basic elements play with a haunting style story but also present a mind-bending version of reality to ensure you’re never certain what’s real and what isn’t. It’s rather inexplicable how well horror themed stories fit with sound booths, inherently there’s the trapped alone in a dark room angle of course but there’s something more to it that’s difficult to quantify but works every time.

Inés is an unusual character, she’s relatable but not necessarily sympathetic, there’s a darker, slightly sinister side to her that makes you wary of her even though she’s the one being tormented. Rivas’ performance is great, she really embraces the downward spiral of her character and convincingly brings through the stark changes as time goes on. Perhaps the only moment that’s a weak spot in her portrayal is very early on when she shouts her boyfriend’s name to find out where he is, in a hotel room that’s only a few square feet and then the scream as she discovers what’s happened, it all feels extremely contrived but that’s more caused by the writing than Rivas’ performance.

The writing is problematic, it’s a real shame as the entire premise, the initial tones and themes are well done and it had huge potential but things get very confused along the way with what its intentions actually are and where it’s trying to go. There is a narrative at play and it is somewhat followable but the route it takes to get there is unfocused and unsatisfying, it’s extremely disappointing as it sets up this captivating and chilling vein to its story then doesn’t follow through. They also try to develop a psycho-sexual element to it which is never realised and is an awkward inclusion with not much to add, it comes across as stereotypical and unnecessary, and takes away from its more effective use of tension and suspense. Its ending, to avoid any spoilers, does feel like something straight out of a horror film but it’s something that would befit a slasher or body horror, and doesn’t fit this story satisfyingly. Then there’s the rather irresponsible inclusion that Inés will just take whatever pills she’s given by various different men in her life, it’s not at all integrated into the story enough to justify its reckless addition.

A large portion of the disappointment comes from the fact that outside of the writing issues, it’s actually extremely stylish. Tts direction and cinematography have a very sleek, sinister edge to them that’s incredibly intriguing and draws you in effectively, and it’s a style that’s consistent throughout. It embraces the darkness but still brings through a great deal of vibrant colour to balance it out and give a tangible texture to it.

The Intruder is visually superb and has a fantastic premise but sadly the initial tension, suspense and thrill that it builds is left by the wayside while the story strays from a more satisfying path. There was such a huge amount of potential with this film to be something special, and it’s so dismally disappointing that it can’t pull it off.

Verdict: ✯✯✯

Reviewed as part of London Film Festival –
Awaiting UK release date

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