A film review by Craig J. Koban August 5, 2019

THE INTRUDER zero stars  

2019, PG-13, 101 mins.

 

Dennis Quaid as Charlie Peck  /  Meagan Good as Annie Russell  /  Joseph Sikora as Mike  /  Michael Ealy as Scott Russell  /  Alvina August as Rachel  /  Lee Shorten as Brian  /  Carolyn Anderson as Ellen

Directed by Deon Taylor  /  Written by David Loughery

 

 

 

Two things dawned on me while watching the new home invasion thriller THE INTRUDER: 

1. Star Dennis Quaid is impossibly ripped for a man that's five years away from 70. 

2. This movie really sucks. 

THE INTRUDER is a double dipping offender:  It's not just an artistically lazy film, but also a wholeheartedly unnecessary one.  

It concerns Quaid playing a baby boomer widow that's initially revealed to be a good-natured and honorably intentioned man, only then exposed as a shockingly deplorable sexual predator/murderer that makes one couple's lives very uncomfortable after he sells them his lavish country house.  Does this premise sound remotely familiar at all?  You'd have to be living under a proverbial rock for the last several decades - and have not watched any films during that span - to say "yes", because THE INTRUDER is annoyingly formulaic and numbingly predictable all throughout its endurance testing 101 minutes.  It offers nothing new for this long running and wearing out its welcome subgenre.  It should be noted that David Loughrey wrote not only this film, but also LAKEVIEW TERRACE and OBSESSED, both of which occupied the fill-in-the-blank from hell thriller milieu.  Those two films and now THE INTRUDER feel like they were penned using the same off the shelf writing program for dummies. 

 

 

Scott Russell (Ealy) and his wife Annie (Meagan Goode) have reached peak financial and emotional happiness in their marriage, so they mutually decide to uproot themselves away from the hustle and bustle of big city San Francisco life to a more quiet and bucolic existence in the country.  They beginning touring gorgeous homes in the ideal middle of the valley, with one home in particular being very attractive to them, currently owned by the magnanimous Charlie (Quaid), who gives the couple a warm and inviting welcome, but something early on turns off Scott about this affable old man.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Charlie brutally shoots a deer in front of them during their first contact, which should be enough to signal to anyone that this guy may not be playing with a full deck. 

Scott's issues with Charlie are understandable.  We learn that his brother was killed via gun violence and seeing Charlie wielding that rifle and taking out wildlife right in front of his eyes is a major home purchasing buzz kill.  Inexplicably, Annie believes Charlie to be a kind and good soul and falls head over heels for the house, which leads Scott to begruidgingly purchase it for the both of them.  Charlie tells both of them that he has plans to leave the country to move to Florida to be with his daughter...but he doesn't seem to keen on leaving.  Not only that, he has this nasty habit of showing up uninvited to his previous home, first doing odd choirs, like mowing the law and later finding a way of including himself in various activities of the couple's day to day life.  At first, Scott doesn't want to upset his wife and relents to Charlie's acts of wanton kindness, but then he gets annoyed...and then angered...by Charlie's incessant presence.  He then gives Charlie an ultimatum to back off.  Charlie responds by...showing up at the house again...when Scott is conveniently not home.  When both Scott and Annie dig up dirt about Charlie's ultra dark past, hell does indeed break loose when they fully realize that this old codger is not only a fraud, but also a sociopath. 

Sigh.  Why are movies like this still made?  What do they have to offer up to modern moviegoers, outside of serving them up regurtuigated and overused conventions from dozens upon dozen of other previous genre examples?  Not only that, but this genre creatively peaked decades ago with films like FATAL ATTRACTION, UNLAWFUL ENTRY, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, and so on and so on. The narrative trajectory that THE INTRUDER takes is laughably preordained.  Only a corpse without a pulse in the audience would not be able to predict with laser sharp accuracy where this film is heading at every major turn.  This is not assisted by the painfully telegraphed nature of Charlie's character: Within seconds of meeting this guy it's clear that he's unhealthily deranged and in latter scenes the camera swoops in on him to ominously tell us that he's bad news.  THE INTRUDER's execution is as subtle as a rusty axe strike to the crainium. 

Why are Scott and, to a larger degree, Annie so criminally stupid in this movie?  Seriously.  Annie seems so smitten with this house of her dreams that she's incapable of noticing that Charlie is beyond insane.  Scott at least has his suspicions, but in the crazy make-believe world that is this idiotic film he doesn't take his wife, drive off, and look at any other home in the surrounding area.  They buy the one owned by a lunatic.  And as Charlie's involvement in their lives becomes borderline creepy, Annie decides that the best course of action...is to...constantly invite him over!!!  All of the time.  And sometimes against Scott's wishes.  WTF?  "The Idiot Plot Syndrome" is described as a movie with a script that's "kept in motion solely by the virtue of the fact that everybody involved is an idiot."  THE INTRUDER is the poster child for this cinematic aliment. 

It's also unintentionally amusing to see the film throw in supporting characters that only serve the purposes of being props for Charlie to slaughter, like Mike (Joseph Sikora), an a-hole workplace buddy of Scott's that makes the fatal mistake of going out of his way to offend Charlie.  His fate is sealed within his introductory scenes.  The film doesn't even have the time of day to probe the dense and troubling psychological layers of Charlie and his history.  Outside of a few cursory details here and there, we learn next to nothing about this guy, where he came from, and why he became a psycho.  There's zero motivation for his mental break from reality or his barbarous actions.  He's insane, yes, but is given no depth of character.  Dennis Quaid is a routinely fine actor when given great material, but he's never really altogether credible hamming it up to histrionic levels as this unbridled madman.  This movie might have been saved from better and more appropriate casting.  Just imagine, say, a Michael Shannon in this role? 

Even the direction here is lifeless and phoned in.  Deon Taylor has this aggravating manner of using so many jump scares, fake outs, more jump scares, and then more fake outs (and so forth) that it becomes better drinking game material than a truly frightening home invasion thriller.  There's nothing remotely unsettlingly suspenseful in this film.  Nothing.  Nadda.  Zilch.  It's just all hackneyed technique without anything of aesthetic substance.  Then there's the underlining aspect of a white country man stalking and later wanting to kill a black couple, but THE INTRUDER never has the foresight or intelligence to tackle the haunting race relations angle that the violence is predicated on.  And the way that the film sets up and then pays off Scott is insulting.  He's a man that's plagued by horrendous memories of his brother being gun downed and murdered, leaving him hating everything that guns represent...only then to turn a blind eye to his phobias in a final and unavoidable bloody showdown with Charlie.  What a load of garbage.     

I've always maintained that a film deserves a zero star rating when it's either creatively bankrupted and/or morally reprehensible to its core.  I have no problem awarding THE INTRUDER that low grade, but not because it grossly offended me (it was too slight to truly get under my skin), but rather because I'm simply tired of watching ludicrous, tension starved, and clichéd riddled films of its ilk.  THE INTRUDER is a simply awful low stakes thriller that needlessly feels like a copy of a copy of a copy, with the ink cartridges of the Xerox movie making machine approaching critical failure levels.

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