I willingly admit to first being drawn to “The Intruder” for no other reason than watching a wild-eyed, crazy Dennis Quaid. He did a great job selling a nutty, unhinged madman in the trailer. He turns out to be even more convincing (and as a result more fun) in the movie itself.
“The Intruder” is a psychological thriller in the strictest of terms. It doesn’t try to be anything more and it never strays from its genre path. Director Deon Taylor moves the story at a slow boil, moseying his way towards the climax that we all know is coming. Taylor doesn’t try to be too clever or overthink. On one hand that keeps things focused and streamlined. On the other hand it leaves very little room for surprise.
Michael Ealy and Meagan Goode play Scott and Annie Howard, a well-to-do San Francisco couple who buy a palatial estate in rural Napa Valley. The previous owner Charlie (Quaid) reluctantly sells the house despite it being the only home he’s ever none. But following the death of his wife to cancer he puts the house on the market and prepares to move to Florida to be with his daughter.
Scott and Annie’s hopes of leaving the city and finding a quite place to start a family runs into a snag. Charlie just can’t seem to let go of the house. He begins popping up uninvited and takes a particularly creepy liking to Annie. Scott, a bit of a big city snoot, quickly senses something is off with Charlie. Annie, more empathetic and in this case absurdly naïve, feels sorry for Charlie and sees him as sad and harmless.
You can probably see where things are heading. Charlie’s behavior gets weirder and more intrusive, Annie remains oblivious while Scott gets angrier. It all leads to a third act climax that can be fun but predictable.
The story is written by David Loughery. Interestingly Loughery’s first screenplay was for “Dreamscape”, a 1984 sci-fi thriller also starring Quaid. Here his script works best when he’s giving the actors room to perform. Quaid benefits the most and he knocks it out of the park. He’s peculiar, eerie and at times uncomfortably convincing. Without question he is given the best material (minus some weird and on-the-nose gun and hunting commentary).
I can see “The Intruder” moving too slow for some audiences and not taking enough chances for some critics. I didn’t have a problem with either. Instead its biggest problem is its utter lack of surprise. Nothing will catch you off guard. Nothing will feel new or fresh. Yet it still manages to be reasonably fun in large part due to Quaid and a role he really sinks his teeth into. The question is will he be enough to win over enough moviegoers?
VERDICT – 3 STARS