How To Ruin Your Own Movie: The Intruders Edition

The Intruders is the story of a father and daughter who move into a spooky new house, and the events which follow after. Spooky events! Doll heads appear and disappear seemingly at will, there are eerie noises in the night - fairly standard stuff.

So the audience is placed in a position of uncertainty - is the house haunted? Is there someone hiding in the walls? Is the main character an unreliable narrator due to mental instability? This would all be a great foundation for mystery and drama, except for one thing-

The movie tells us that it is, in all likelihood, the second option. Right up front. Here's the first thing that happens in the movie:

Sorry about the low quality - the image was super-dark, so I just used the auto-balance.
A beaten woman is tied up in a dingy basement.
Yup, it's auto-balance again.
A man comes in to assault her. He carries a modern videocamera, establishing that this is happening in  something close to the present day.

So when we discover early in the film that the woman from the basement mysteriously disappeared from the house where she was staying, we right away know she's dead. There were two people living in the house at the time she was staying there - a creepy old lady and her creepy son. Since the man who comes in and assaults the woman from the beginning obviously isn't the old lady, he must be the creepy son, who's also missing during the main plot of the film. Especially since the dingy basement is established as being located inside the main character's house, and there's no reason to believe that anyone else would have access to it.

Armed with this information, we know that the story we hear about the basement woman and creepy son running away together is nonsense, what with him having killed her at the start of the film. This leaves the son unaccounted for, forcing us to assume that he must be responsible for all the creepy goings-on. Especially since the film's main character looks a lot like the woman he killed at the beginning.

So the filmmakers have taken a perfectly serviceable mystery and ruined it by telling us the solution right at the start. Thanks for that.

'But wait,' you may say, 'What about the Pact? Another film with a hider-in-the-house revealed right at the start which you kind of liked! Why isn't that an example of a film ruining itself?'

In general, I try not to respond to straw men, especially those of my own creation, but it's my birthday, so here goes: In The Pact, the fact that we knew that there was a hider-in-the-house was the entire point. It's excessively creepy because we know that the main character is living in blissful ignorance of the murderer just a few feet from them. It creates and sustains tension - which is the template for all rip-offs of Hider in the House.

This is The Intruders' entire problem - it doesn't know whether it wants to be yet another Hider in the House rip-off, or a mystery where the Hider in the House is a surprising reveal. So it tries to do both, and as a result, ruins itself.

But hey, it was made in Sudbury, a town I'm a fan of! So that's nice!

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