By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
When Scott Howard (Michael Ealy) and his wife Annie (Meagan Good) purchase their dream home, a country estate in Napa Valley, from a strange older widower Charlie (Dennis Quaid), they find him slow to leave. Moreso, he begins questioning any changes that the couple make to the house he built. Charlie doesn’t take kindly to Scott. However, he takes an uncomfortable interest in Annie, and seizes every opportunity to ingratiate himself to her.
Women love to be stalked… right?
Dennis Quaid seems to have known exactly what he was getting into when he chose this role. This is the perfect film for an actor like Quaid, who often gets shoehorned into thankless leading man roles in mediocre movies. Certainly The Intruder isn’t any better than those films, and in many ways its a whole lot worse. But this paint-by-numbers thriller has a singular redeeming trait; the character of Charlie is blank canvas on which the proper artist can paint a masterpiece of monkey-shit-gargling craziness.
There is literally a scene where he practices his shit-eating grin…
One of the film’s biggest issues is the way it treats its leading lady. Meagan Good does what she can with the material. But, I’m sad to say that Annie is the kind of clueless housewife character that would still have felt poorly dated 20 years ago. Throughout the movie, she buys into Charlie’s shallow flattery and sob story background, despite how clearly unstable he is. Making matters worse, her husband makes it obvious that he doesn’t feel comfortable with him around, and she basically chooses to ignore these pleas. The writers tried to throw in a subplot about Scott’s past infidelity to give her a reason to rebel, but it is handled with total lack of subtlety and then abandoned seemingly as quick as it is introduced.
“He seems harmless!”
I grow tired of movies where you’re introduced to wealthy business people and their personal problems. It makes it nearly impossible to empathize with people who allow themselves to be swallowed up in a violent thriller when they’re the kind of people whose business deals have probably destroyed the lives of dozens of people already. For this reason, you find yourself rooting for the bad guy. The filmmakers try to inject some social consciousness into the film by giving Scott some backstory about having come up from the streets, and having a traumatic childhood involving gang violence. Michael Ealy never really lives this in his performance, and it winds up feeling like an empty gesture.
*Spoiler Alert: If you plan on actually seeing this movie, you might want to skip this section*. The film’s finale is where all this insanity comes together. It turns out that Dennis Quaid had built a creepy stalker space inside the walls of his house before he sold it, which allows him to live inside. It explains why he is able to show up at all times of the day in all places around the house. This means that The Intruder is basically a remake of Hider in the House, with Dennis Quaid in the Gary Busey role. Who thought that was a good idea?
The Intruder is this year’s answer to The Boy Next Door and Bad Samaritan, a thriller that is shoddily written, horribly cliché, but with a talented actor willing to play “crazy” way harder than the film is worth. The result is spectacular schlock.
The Intruder (2019) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time a character drinks wine
Take a Drink: for close-ups of Dennis Quaid’s stinkface
Take a Drink: every time “Florida” is mentioned
Do a Shot: for the Chekhov’s Gun setup and payoff