It took me a long time to deduce the point of this movie. Once I did, there was no satisfaction as there should have been. It's not that anything was presented poorly, per se. I think it's that they failed to present what they needed to in order to sell me on this story.
The opening scene of this movie casts a less serious mood than one would expect from an R-rated horror. Two children (one 12, one 8) living in different countries (England and Spain) are visited nightly by a faceless being who wants to take possession of them. Each child has found a convincingly similar story about the faceless fiend. Quickly quelling this immature storytelling notion is the disturbing faceless imagery of "Hollowface," our spectral intruder.
The parents of each child have their own passed-down methods of alleviating their children's fears: nostalgic children's books, burning an effigy (a bit extreme if you ask me), closing your eyes and counting to five--none of them seem to work. Then some strange things start happening with the parents, too: a near death experience for Clive Owen's work buddy and Juan's mom has some issues finding credibility claiming demonic possession.
The children's childish(?) fears worsen toward mania and the parents have difficulty handling their terror. But what happens when the parents start seeing the same thing? Both children's parents adopt increasingly paranoid, but protective, behavior. The British family turns to the police, the Spanish family to the church; both fail to find credibility in the parents' story which, in their mind, is a case of the children's story "infecting" the parents. When efforts to help these families inexplicably fail, they are considered crazy and/or psychological explanations are forced upon them.
Throughout the process the audience questions the notion of "Hollowface." Is it just a common term (i.e., a title like the boogeyman) used by some analyst through whose eyes we perceive this story (i.e., this movie's perspective). Or is the story told through the eyes of the children and parents? Or just the children? Or just the parents? Is the common element between both families--this specific, named villain with an unmistakable appearance--the clue that tells us that this is really happening to these people? Or is it just a device, a paralleling machination dreamt up by a screenplay writer or director to lead us into one sense of awareness and comfortable conclusion before pulling the rug out from under our feet?
The mystery is revealed to us, and gracefully so. However, I can't help but to disagree with the direction they chose thereafter.
All in all, a nice idea delivered too off-target to receive a serious endorsement from me.