THE INTRUDER (2019)
Starring Michael Ealy, Meagan Good, Dennis Quaid, Joseph Sikora, Alvina August, Debs Howard, Lili Sepe, Lee Shorten, Connor Mackay, Caroline Muthoni Muita, Carolyn Anderson, John Torrance and Mary Elise Torrance.
Screenplay by David Loughery.
Directed by Deon Taylor.
Distributed by Screen Gems. 102 minutes. Rated PG-13.
It’s sort of a suburban nightmare. A family works hard, and finally can afford to buy their dream home out in the country. However, once they have moved in, they find that the former owner is having trouble letting go. He starts showing up uninvited at all hours, doing innocuous stuff like mowing the lawn, helping with Christmas decorations and dropping off food. Is he just being neighborly, or is it something to be concerned about?
It is a storyline which has gotten a lot of mileage over the years in Hollywood. (Hint: the neighbor isn’t usually doing it to make new friends…) In fact, about 15 years ago, Dennis Quaid did another film with essentially the same basic storyline. That one was called Cold Creek Manor, although in that version he was the terrorized new homeowner rather than the perhaps-deranged seller. That’s some progress, I guess.
Also, progress is the fact that, while far from a great film, The Intruder is much better than Cold Creek Manor. The Intruder is very much a formula thriller – however it is a pretty effective formula thriller.
There is a strong cast, with Quaid playing against type as the more-and-more obviously deranged former homeowner. (They even have a tribute shot in which Quaid essentially reimagines Jack Nicholson’s famous “Here’s Johnny!” moment from The Shining.) Michael Ealy and Meagan Good are also terrific as the up-and-coming young couple who slowly come to realize that their dream house is becoming a nightmare.
Now, like I said, most people do not think of Quaid as the bogeyman type, so the actor has fun with his bad-guy role, chewing scenery with a post-modern verve that he also shows in his oh-so-ironic Esurance commercials. One of the characters refers to his role of Charlie Peck as having a classically manly demeanor, like your dad or granddad would have.
Most of the fun of the film is watching the mask slip. When Charlie first appears in the lives of Scott and Annie Howard, it is literally with a bang. They are touring his family estate looking to buy it and are charmed by a deer feeding in the woods surrounding the house. Suddenly Charlie is there with a shotgun and the deer is dead right near where they stand.
Despite this awkward meeting, Charlie charms the young couple, good-naturedly showing them the home that he has lived in his entire life, telling them about his late wife and how he is moving to Florida to be closer to his daughter. He seems a little intense sometimes, but he is also friendly and welcoming.
However, when they buy the home, Charlie is still always around, doing chores and getting abnormally upset about changes the couple makes to the home. The move to Florida keeps getting pushed back. Scott doesn’t trust him from the beginning, but Annie befriends Charlie during long days alone in the house.
Then a bunch of strange occurrences happen. There seems to be someone in the woods, and soon in the house. And Charlie always is popping up out of nowhere, driving a wedge into the couple’s relationship.
In a lot of ways, the action can get a little predictable, even sometimes preposterous, but the strong acting and sense of fun keeps things enjoyable. Besides, who is really looking for realism in their chillers?
The Intruder is not the kind of movie that will win any awards or even become a cult favorite. However, it is rather skillful at doing what it is trying to do, being a pulp horror in which things pop up out of the dark. You probably know where the story is heading about five minutes into the film (hey, even the title is a spoiler), but it is still a fun trip.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2019 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 3, 2019.