"The Intruder" Review: Stellar Suspense, Dumb Decisions
Certain movies ask for you to just go with it in order for you to take the full ride. The Intruder is one of those types of films. If the lead characters did what we’d do in real life, the movie would be over in thirty minutes. So if you can check your brain at the door and go with it, this film may be the popcorn suspense thriller for your outing this weekend!
Scott (Michael Ealy) and Annie Russell (Meagan Good) are a young, successful couple living in San Fransisco looking to start a family. How does Annie want to do that? By buying a house in Napa! They find a beautiful property with lots of character that’s been in one family for generations. The current owner, Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid), greets the couple by shooting a deer right in front of them the first time they visit the property. If that initial encounter isn’t “Get Out” enough for them, throughout the showing, Charlie has a way of stressing the “must keep” features of the house.
After purchasing the property, Charlie finds ways to keep showing up at Scott and Annie’s new home. He mows the lawn and cites that “it was getting out of hand”. It probably doesn’t help that Annie keeps inviting him to functions, like Thanksgiving, even though Charlie is supposed to have moved to Florida to be near his daughter. The Russell’s friends Mike (Joseph Sikora) and Rachel (Alvina August) have mixed views on Charlie. Mike doesn’t trust him and thinks he’s a peeping Tom, while Rachel thinks he’s a hot old man. Regardless, a seed of suspicion is planted and grows into full blown awareness as the film moves forward.
The trinity of actors in this film do a great job of playing their roles. Good plays the loving wife with a heart for the poor old man who lost his wife in their home. Her character is authentic and, while naive, earnest in her decisions. Ealy is the out of his element husband in his new country home digs who also shouldn’t be slept on just because he wears glasses and nice clothes. Quaid has the most fun as the possessive, rehearsed, good ‘ol country boy. In fact, Quaid is repulsive in this movie at some points. Once the sicko is unmasked, he goes all in with his character and it raises the stakes in the hair-raising, skin crawling, “get away from me old man” delivery.
As his follow up to 2018’s Traffik, director Deon Taylor is proving one thing, he understands how to build suspense and tension in a scene. In fact, that’s the biggest thing that this film has going for it. There are a lot of illogical plot contrivances that writer David Loughery has placed in the film. However, Taylor understands what’s creepy, what’s scary based in reality, and uses the camera, lighting and sound to highlight it.
While the use of tension and suspense is fantastic in parts, it doesn’t make up for the whole of the film. There is a point in which an audience starts to yell at the screen in a film like this that’s fun, but there’s also a point in which the film becomes a comedy when it wasn’t written for that. The Intruder looks at that tipping point and walks over the edge. Had it been grounded in more realistic decisions it could be a film that you remember past next week. That said, the ending produced one of the most joyously, uproarious screams of satisfaction I’ve heard in a while.