The Intruder (El Prófugo)

From the director Natalia Meta, with only two other director or producer credits to her name, tells a tale of a woman, Inés, who begins to lose her sense of reality after a traumatic trip away with her partner. By day she works as a dubbing recording artist, and in her spare time takes pleasure as part of a Buenos Aires female choir. Playing the lead of Inés is the exceptional actress Erica Rivas, who reveals to us the fear in her mind and her vulnerabilities, but demonstrates inner defiance in being able to continue life as normal.

After Inés returns home, she focuses her mind to her work in the studio, dubbing Spanish over Japanese horror films, more supernatural occurrences begin to seep into her life. From shadows behind the screens to the whispered static of an unintelligible voice, Ines is never alone. Her nights are plagued with this intrepid fear, as the film tumbles through the psychological thriller-esque plot.

The film explores how we separate our dreams and realities, and Ines’ insomnia and consumption of various pills cause her distortions around her, as her mind tries to create a form for her internal fears. The eerie tensions of a stranger in the shadows, ghosts from her past and dream layers wrangle the audience into her mind as you attempt to piece together her reality. The perception of mental health from those around us becomes a key theme, and the confrontation of our deepest fears and the film pursues an engaging narrative. However, it doesn’t entirely feel like it hits its full potential, climbing the audience up the mountain with her, but before we reach the top or tumble down, we’re instead placed on this nice, safe ledge. While her mindset is at the forefront of the film, with the horror elements woven in, what is lacking is getting to really understand Inés’ personality, the in-depth nature of her relationships and where this all ultimately stems from. There are subtle nodes towards her past and conversations with family and friends ultimately relevel very little, and this lack of connection can make it hard to really believe the story. Despite this, the thematic and aesthetics of the film, the droplets and trickling thrills of narrative suspense makes up for this in part.

THE INTRUDER rips open the shadowy pockets where we hide our unseen worries and exposes how we submit to their appealing, taunting destructiveness for the surge of the thrill, no matter the consequences to others. While we don’t receive the satisfaction of the film revealing where these intruders live inside her, knowing only they are intensified by her current stresses, it still retains your attention and sparks curiosity, suiting the style of abstract and originality that has been running through the heart of the 2020 Berlinale.

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