The newest poster for the horror thriller Intruders employs the growing, unnerving trend of manipulating orifices, while also testing the power of star recognition. Clive Owen should feel rather good about himself—he’s reached a level of fame where he’s identifiable even with eyes and mouth removed. Perhaps it’s the hair, or that ever-serious forehead, but there’s no mistaking Owen’s dashing countenance. Considering the plot of this Spanish-made, English-language import (which concerns two children of different countries being stalked by the same faceless demon), the poster automatically points the accusatory finger at Owen’s character, who, naturally, is the father of one of the terrorized children. Or, it could simply be a convenient merger of assets, fusing the headliner’s face with the spooky trademark of the film’s boogeyman (and tossing in a little red herring to boot). While far from a contender for one of 2012’s best, this is one arresting one-sheet design, conceived by the frequently clever folks at Ignition Print. It is not, however, without precedent.
The first image that leaps to mind when looking at this poster is that of Keanu Reeves’s lips bonding together in The Matrix, a visual itself derived, presumably, from Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream. The bio-terror of one’s mouth being forced shut has graced a library of horror texts, and furthermore, a heap of horror movie cover art. You can find it in the ads for everything from Dee Snider’s Strangeland to the 2006 video game adaptation Silent Hill. For even freakier face play, where, conversely, screaming mouths are not only present, but mind-fucking-ly replicated, look no further than the one-sheet for One Missed Call. So, the Intruders poster can’t claim much originality, but it does top its aforementioned predecessors considerably, thanks to its commanding frankness, its toying with the precious celebrity face, its successful blend of red and grayscale, and that superb text placement.
The decision to contour the title to the skin grooves and bone structure of Owen’s eyeless face may seem simple enough, but it’s actually terrifically savvy, and may just be the key selling point for the design’s believability. It’s one thing to successfully render a man without sockets for his peepers, but it’s quite another to essentially tattoo that freakish flesh with a name intended to, shall we say, make a mark on the viewer. It’s design assuredness matched with good marketing. And it helps, too, that so much of the surrounding text promises an international production. A horror film fronted by an A-Lister should be more than enough to draw in the masses, but additional details are in place for the more discerning set, such as the presence of Black Book star Carice van Houten and 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (who hasn’t quite earned the badge of “visionary,” but, whatever). The trailer for Intruders makes the movie look, irritatingly, like countless other haunted-house gasp inducers, and this poster, admittedly, is largely guilty of the same crime. The difference? A touch of class and a dose of striking confidence amid familiar heebie-jeebies.