A mystery about… erm… well…
Boiled down to a one- line
pitch, Intruders is a curious beast indeed. After four episodes it’s still near impossible to sum up this new BBC America show in a sentence. We wouldn’t be able to sell it to someone in a lift. But let’s try anyway: it’s the one where a nine year- old girl is possessed by some creepy old guy with a foul mouth. Ah, yes, but it’s also the one where John Simm plays an ex- cop turned mystery author whose wife claims to be immortal. And then it’s also the one where an assassin is killing seemingly unconnected people. And for good measure it’s the one where a man claims to have built a ghost machine. Somehow these all link together.
To be fair, it may all end up being very simple. Certainly there are patterns rapidly emerging and the fact that Intruders is based on a novel by Michael Marshall Smith ( and not a convoluted story made up as it goes along, like Lost) gives you hope there’s a satisfying rationale behind it all. But the show seems to go out of its way to try to keep viewers off- kilter. There’s a snow globe approach to the script. It’s like shards of disparate plot elements are bouncing around inside a glass dome, only slowly settling into something recognisable as a plot. If you think you know what’s going on, you’re clearly not paying attention.
What keeps it watchable is that each individual scene has something great to offer. Any moment featuring Madison is an unnerving delight, with Millie Brown utterly convincing as the possessed little girl. James Frain is cooly chilling as the assassin Richard Sheppard. Simm turns out to be a great action hero as well as an endearingly confused husband.
Director Eduardo Sanchez ( The Blair Witch Project) gives the show a stylishly low- key spooky sheen, in which figures moving beyond frosted windows and ringing phones suddenly take on an eerie resonance. Some of the dialogue is a little cheesy, but he’s good at smoke and mirroring the exposition into something more dramatic.
The whole thing may ultimately turn out to be a case of style over substance – it’s a show that engages intellectually more than emotionally – but it’s refreshing to so far have a new show that can’t be described as, “It’s like this year’s big hit meets the X- Files.” Dave Golder
tv reviews and opinion “Yes, I’m immortal. But you’re not doing that.”