When a young married couple, Scott (Michael Ealy) and Annie (Meagan Good) stumble upon the house of their dreams, they meet the enigmatic seller/owner, Charlie (Dennis Quaid). Sure, Charlie seems normal and this dream home is ”perfect”. But wouldn’t you know, beneath the surface, there is something very wrong. From the onset, Deon Taylor’s psychological thriller feels like everything you have already seen before in other stalker thrillers. Yet, the main issue with The Intruder is its lack of logic.
The creepy situation that arises from this thriller’s property sale is intriguing. But it’s also a situation any grounded individual can instantly recognise as bad news. The Intruder knows this but completely disregards it and progresses as if nothing is ever wrong. One can argue that in order for a movie like The Intruder to reach some level of success, an audience must ignore reality and reason a slight bit. Unfortunately, for this thriller though, the warning signs come far too soon and it’s almost impossible to detach yourself from real life.
Every creepy moment or sinister vibe is overshadowed by huge leaps in logic, while the creepy moments begin after the ten minute mark. For example, about 30 minutes in, Scott and his close friend, Mike (Joseph Sikora), witness a car driver watching them from the driveway of this newly purchased house. The driver of the vehicle makes no intention of hiding and drives away into the darkness after scaring our protagonists. Instead of notifying the police to this growing presence around their property, Scott shrugs it off and Annie is left completely oblivious to anything that’s going on.
These frights escalate and it finally takes a hit and run incident for Scott to suspect something is very wrong with this house or more specifically, it’s former owner. However, Scott’s wife isn’t so receptive as she continues to brush off Charlie’s regular creepy appearance as nothing more than a friend saying hello. Pretty soon it grows hard not to detach yourself from reality. And by the hour mark, when things really start to heat up, you will be growing frustrated – ready at any given moment to shout out in anger at just where Taylor is taking viewers.
Also annoying is the fact the movie’s plot progresses into territory we have seen a hundred times before. Taylor manages to throw one or two interesting curveballs into the mix but even they only act as mere distractions because everything is foreshadowed far too obviously to have any real impact. It’s all a shame really because there are a few surprising elements hidden away in The Intruder, one of which is Dennis Quaid’s performance.
On paper, Charlie is your typical stalker. Yet, Quaid manages to deliver an unusual performance that feels more focused on ludicrous over-the-top moments than following the run of the mill restraint The Intruder offers as a whole.
Quaid twitches, laughs excessively, talks to himself and provides some truly strange facial expressions. His performance just does not match the mood of the movie but that’s why it feels so refreshing. That doesn’t mean he can’t be serious when he needs to be but even in the super serious climax, Quaid finds a way to make sure all the attention is on him and his magnificent over-acting. It’s easy to see the actor had a lot of fun with this movie and intended to stand out amongst its inadequacies.
The score is another of The Intruder’s strongest components. Geoff Zanelli’s soundtrack in parts feels huge and really helps propel more of the creepier moments above mediocrity. The composer also has a great ability to seamlessly switch between peaceful and terrifying. That said, one wishes Taylor relied less on the score and more on building an ominous soundscape.
Satisfying psychological thrillers are hard to come by these days and The Intruder just doesn’t cut it. While certainly not unbearable viewing, don’t rush out to see it in theatres.