'Intruders': TV Review

Millie Brown may not be who she appears to be in "Intruders,"
A very creepy and entertaining series about body snatchers.

BBC America's paranormal thriller from writer Glenn Morgan sets the hooks early and makes for thrilling television

Even before seeing a frame of Intruders, all the ideas sounded good. For starters, you have writer and creator Glen Morgan (The X-Files) getting to make a real X-Files-style show. That’s a good thing. And, since so many actors seem to be British these days, it seemed extra clever that this BBC America series, which takes place in the Pacific Northwest, chose to use a bunch of British actors but have them play Americans. Everybody gets it. So let’s play.

And after having watched the first two hours of the eight-part limited series directed by Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project), I can confirm that Intruders is spooky and riveting, a paranormal thriller as addictive as anything on television. It set the hook within minutes and never looked back.

The series, beginning Saturday, is yet another that you must add to your list. With Morgan in charge, you can feel assured that all the weirdness he’s getting at in the service of the story will ultimately pay off (there’s been a promise that it does), which allows you to just go with it as the story unfolds.

Because Intruders isn’t messing around when it comes to mythology.

Early on, it’s difficult to pick up where the series is going or what its endgame is. But that’s at least half the fun, since Morgan makes it intriguing from the get-go and the visuals are never less than cinematic and haunting.

Basically, Intruders is about body snatchers and the need to stay immortal. How people are taking over bodies is not immediately clear. Do people pay to be someone else after they pick that someone? And does that someone who is about to lose his or her own body and personality know it’s coming? And when the time is up — there seems to be a limit to how long a body can be used — it’s time to get out or get cleaned up, because Intruders has an assassin named Richard Shepherd (James Frain) cleaning up all the loose ends no matter how many people he has to take out in the process.

Oh, and everybody seems to carry a card with the number 9 on it. And, in case you hadn’t guessed already, not everything is what it seems. For added mystery, some allegiances might be changing.

Based on the book of the same name by British writer Michael Marshall Smith, Intruders starts off with former LAPD cop Jack Whelan (John Simm) enjoying his modernist house with his lovely wife, Amy (Mira Sorvino). They’re in the Pacific Northwest and the stress levels should all be dialed down except that, well, Amy is acting pretty odd. Meanwhile, in another seemingly peaceful enclave, a little 9-year-old girl named Madison (the phenomenal Millie Brown) could be having her body snatched (either that or she’s just in a bad mood), but she’s going on the lam from the aforementioned assassin — and this end run (which leads to Chinatown) is a compelling bit of weirdness.

Oh, and apparently all intruders are not the same. In one early scene, the assassin wipes out a mother and her young son. No explanation. Except maybe they knew too much. People do know something is amiss, because a fringe group of believers is spreading its message on pirate radio, hoping to convince the masses or anyone who likes podcasts. Or maybe the mother-son combo was a situation where their time was simply up. 

There are any number of murders and deaths in Intruders. The paranormal activity doesn’t just exist in our current time; history, plus a secret society called Qui Reverti that goes back for ages, play a part. “Because in the beginning, there was death" is an important — and freaky — line.

The answers will come from watching. 

Credit Morgan, the original source material of the book (there is some deviation, according to Morgan) and BBC America for crafting an instantaneously addictive piece of television. I haven’t seen the entirety of it, but find myself, as you might, wanting to binge through the rest of it at a frantic pace, while keeping one eye out for the supposedly sweet little girl and another for the assassin.

I’m all in. A good summer gets better.

Email: Tim.Goodman@THR.com
Twitter: @BastardMachine