The Intruder is a painfully foolish and predictable thriller with a top tier cast. It has an obvious plot that never deviates from the set up. There are a few legitimate scares. The problem is that they are prefaced by a thundering score and cheesy, B-movie lighting. The film is an absolute chore to sit through. Horror director Deon Taylor (Meet the Blacks, Traffik) delivers an uninspired clunker.
Michael Ealy stars as Scott Howard, a successful San Francisco brand and marketing executive. His gorgeous wife, Annie (Meagan Good), wants to leave the hustle and bustle of the big city behind. When Scott closes a highly lucrative deal for his company, their dream of owning a luxurious home is possible. Annie becomes enamored with a lush, vine-covered country estate in beautiful Napa Valley.
The homeowner, Charlie (Dennis Quaid), had many offers for his beloved home. But is seemingly impressed with the earnest young couple. Annie and Scott purchase the home and move in; ready to have children and start a life anew. They are surprised to find Charlie mowing the lawn several days later. Scott becomes annoyed as Charlie's visits become frequent and unexpected. Annie feels sorry for the lonely old man, who is clearly fawning for her attention. Scott's exasperation with Charlie comes to a boiling point. The couple have no idea who they are truly dealing with.
The Intruder suffers from a fatal flaw that drives me crazy. The script by David Loughery portrays Scott and Annie as an intelligent, wealthy couple. They're not stupid, except when it comes to anything concerning Charlie. This guy's behavior would set off alarm bells from the first incident. The fact that they continually ignore and encourage his actions is ludicrous. The film becomes even more brainless when Charlie gets aggressive. The characters are not rational in any of their responses. The Intruder needed a smarter script. It's the classic horror trope of the dumb teenagers running blindly through the woods.
The direction by Deon Taylor feels amateurish. Apart from a few scenes in San Francisco, the film takes place in and around the Napa Valley home. Taylor uses lighting and sound effects to build up the scares. They're broadcast from a mile away. The Intruder is akin to walking through a Halloween haunted house. You're fumbling through the dark, light flickers, thunder rolls, and some dude jumps out of a corner. Taylor needs to take a page from Jordan Peele's style. The way he shoots the home settings in Get Out and Us are masterful, filled with tension. The Intruder's edge of your seat moments are dismal and plodding.
Dennis Quaid is wasted in this film. His character had a chance to be terrifying. Instead we get an obvious psycho. The audience knows he's a loon, and then has to wait ninety minutes for the other characters to figure it out. Much more could have been done to make the character more effective and realistic. A subtle approach to his creepiness was needed. Make him disarming, then when he goes on a rampage; the couple's reactions are genuine.
The Intruder is a brainless dud. It's poorly directed with a weak script. I can't fathom what attracted Dennis Quaid, Michael Ealy, and Meagan Good to this film. Maybe the cast just wanted to hang out in Napa Valley wine country for a few weeks. The Intruder is produced by Hidden Empire Film Group and distributed by Sony Pictures.
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