Updated: Feb 8, 2020
Some thrillers try to grab the viewer’s attention subtly, through mood and tone. Watching it, you know something bad is going to happen, though you are unsure why you feel that way. They get under the skin and make you worry about the characters. The Intruder is not that type of thriller. It is the type that tells you what is wrong before the story does. It is the type that builds tension through loud noises, quick cuts to nothing and by having its characters make really stupid decisions. It is boring, obvious and exploitative, with no grasp of mood or ability to mine entertainment from anything that happens. In short, it is pretty bad.
Scott and Annie have decided to leave the city to buy a place in Napa Valley. Annie immediately falls in love with Foxglove, a beautiful, secluded, estate. It is owned by Charlie, a widower who seems reluctant to part with his property even after he sells it to them. The rest you can probably figure out for yourself.
One of the many issues with The Intruder is that Charlie’s creepiness is crystal clear from the first second he is onscreen, yet Scott and especially Annie are oblivious to his danger for a shockingly long time. As soon as he is introduced, the movie makes no attempt to hide the barely suppressed rage underneath Charlie’s overly-friendly façade. This makes Annie look like a giant idiot since she has to constantly make polite overtures to him without ever realizing something is off about this guy. Actually, everything is off about Charlie. Even after Scott starts to get suspicious, Annie persists in ignoring his warnings. The intent was probably to establish her as caring and too trusting, but that is contradicted by an underdeveloped problem in her relationship with her husband. It is just annoying.
Lack of continuity is another major flaw in The Intruder (a very stretched out 96 minutes, minus the end credits). It is present in the story and characters, as well as the filmmaking. There is a specific sequence I want to mention in which it is singularly distracting.
Since it occurs late in the movie, I will try to be vague to avoid spoilers should you be so unlucky as to see this. A character comes home during daylight. After a confrontation, they wander through the house, coming out the other side to spy on another character. Once again, it is clearly daylight. They then run back to the kitchen where it is now the dead of night. Either I missed something or there was some time traveling during those few minutes. I understand some continuity errors are considered to be acceptable. If a particular take is really strong, sometimes filmmakers will excuse a minor mistake for the greater good. I have no idea if that is the case here, but this is only one example of why this whole production feels incredibly lazy.
It is a home invasion thriller with no internal logic. I could not believe what I was seeing, let alone care about any of it. Michael Ealy and Meagan Good, as Scott and Annie, are left adrift playing characters who exist purely as victims. And Dennis Quaid has absolutely no chance to salvage Charlie, a villain who makes no sense. Even with movies I greatly dislike, I can usually find one aspect to be complimentary about. It is hard here. It is not that The Intruder is offensive. It is just a poorly made waste of the talents of everyone involved. I supposed I liked the house. It is quite lovely. Unfortunately, there is no real sense of place, so it is a location without any personality to add to the proceedings. But at least it looks nice.
¾ out of 5
Meagan Good as Annie Russell
Michael Ealy as Scott Russell
Dennis Quaid as Charlie Peck
Joseph Sikora as Mike
Directed by Deon Taylor
Written by David Loughery