The Intruder, 2019.
Directed by Deon Taylor.
Starring Dennis Quaid, Meagan Good, Joseph Sikora, and Michael Ealy.
A young married couple buy a beautiful house on several acres of land only to find out that the man they bought it from refuses to let go of the property.
There is no debating that horror and social commentary go hand-in-hand (especially in this decade with Jordan Peele bursting onto the scene as one of the most important and must-see directors of the current generation), so the concept of The Intruder at its most stripped-down, bare-bones is fine. Essentially, the film stars Michael Ealy and Meagan Good playing a wealthy couple named Annie and Scott moving down to the countryside envisioning it as the quietest and most ideal place to start and raise a family, so they purchase a $3 million-plus home from Dennis Quaid’s Charlie, a sketchy, questionable, and plausibly dangerous lonely old man. You don’t need to see a single image from the movie to know that a potentially volatile dynamic has already been created provided these people don’t get along; millennials versus baby boomers, racial tension, conservatism versus progressiveness, city values versus rural values, are all sitting there in a powder keg waiting to explode.
Director Deon Taylor (who being blunt, has one of the most abysmal filmmaking track records of recent memory) fumbles this, churning out unequivocal trash. The script from David Loughery (not exactly an impressive talent either) is no better. The Intruder is an unintentionally hilarious cartoon of a home invasion thriller, is repeatedly able to dumb down Annie on a scene to scene basis with each one eliciting more laughter, settles for clichés so predictable a newborn baby can probably figure out nearly every swerve, wedges in relationship troubles for the central couple (making the plot more contrived but Annie a tiny bit less stupid, which in this case basically amounts to nothing), and never once works tonally.
The Intruder is lacking so hard in subtlety it introduces Dennis Quaid’s widowed property seller as a rifle-toting hunter firing at live deer while the lovebirds are exploring the house for purchasing suitability for the first time. He also has plenty of guns locked up, which is supposed to tip us off that he is a psychopath but just feels like a lazy, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this, disrespectful to responsible gun owners course of action to let the audience know this guy is not dealing with a full deck. And if you’re thinking the message of the movie is that firearms are not necessary, think again, as the finale to the movie doubles back on all of this to provide a Death Wish-style wish-fulfillment fantasy that they are necessary to protect loved ones and homes. Then again, I also wouldn’t be surprised if no one had any idea what they wanted to say with this movie, making crap up as they went.
Offhand, there is one moment that does work, and it comes as the couple is pulling into the driveway from picking out and bringing home a Christmas tree (there are all kinds of eye-rolling holiday shenanigans here). Scott is the intelligent but wimpy and impractical husband archetype, and generally is in over his head when it comes to searching the premises for intruders or basic handiwork like untying the Christmas tree from the hood of the car. Meanwhile, Charlie whips out a Swiss Army knife and cuts it down within seconds, slyly displaying superiority and dominance. What makes this small scene better is that it comes immediately after Scott strictly bans guns to Charlie’s face on what is now his property. If the movie actually continued to capitalize on the inherently different personalities of these intergenerational characters to flex their individual strengths and one-up each other in favor of Annie (sadly, she’s a prop in this story no matter how you tell it), The Intruder would have been functional and thrilling satire.
Some bits are entirely tasteless, playing off the threat of rape as a means for Dennis Quaid to further dig into his go-for-broke bonkers’s performance (he is dialed up to 11 and somehow makes aggressive jump scares work just as much as some admittedly well-crafted shots of him silently entering the frame to stalk his prey) with facial expressions that are humorous in their creepiness. There are also details about his marriage that can be seen coming from a mile away but are equally icky. The Intruder can’t quite figure out how to realistically portray its psychopathic villain, so it takes the easy route and doesn’t even try, going for shock value that belongs in a different movie.
Most offensively, it’s incredibly boring with only one outcome, and even if the marketing had not already spoiled just about every leg of the story it would probably still play out as clichéd garbage. Sure, it’s amusing watching Dennis Quaid pop up anywhere and everywhere (outrageously during a sex scene I might add), but it quickly becomes repetitive; Annie does something naïve, Charlie subsequently becomes more creepy, rinse and repeat until the inevitable outburst of violence, which leads to an ending somehow more empty, juvenile, and hollow than anything preceding it.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, check out my personal non-Flickering Myth affiliated Patreon, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com