The fact of the matter is while The Intruder is all harmless fun, it’s overripe. Even at 90 minutes, the movie is more of an exercise in running out the clock than any edge of your seat suspense.
There has been a resurgence of the ‘80s-themed, thinly-veiled, talking to yourself (or the screen), good-looking-people-being-chased-by-stalker films as of late. Sleeping with the Enemy, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, or Unlawful Entry and dozens of others like them have summed up one of the worst decades in film history – even if Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. made it out unscathed. What I found mildly entertaining, bordering on humorous, is the way filmmakers are re-birthing the genre from the last decade of political upheaval. While The Intruder is harmless fun, the film might as well have been named, “A Deep Dive Metaphor of the Revenge or Death of the Middle-Aged White Suburban Male.”
Films like these have a half-dozen laughable scenes that make you roll your eyes, but you wouldn’t take offense since the comedy genre has been so bad of late you need to laugh at something. Take for instance The Intruder‘s first scene with Dennis Quaid’s villain Charlie. A handsome couple played by Meagan Good and Michael Ealy, who is walking around his property they want to buy to start a family, and they are almost blown away Dick Cheney-style with a rifle because the owner shoots a deer right behind them.
Now, growing up in the backwoods of Western New York, I would understand the reason (not that I agree with it) to keep the deer population at bay. When the deer is clearly down for the count, does he really have to run up to Bambi like he’s taking the beach at Normandy, to get a second shot in while blowing its head off at close range? Not to mention, you might not want to endanger your potential buyers in the first place by making them an accidental casualty. The dialogue in this film isn’t any better. As the film moves along, we are treated to such lines like, “Rachel, shut your magic lips.” Calling these lines cheesy would be an insult to cheddar; they might as well be called Velveeta.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Dennis Quaid starts walking around with a red baseball cap, which makes me think they worked these scenes back into The Intruder with re-shoots. It’s an obvious attempt by director Deon Taylor (Traffik) to cue our feelings of anger towards today’s administration. Even the name of the property Charlie is selling, called Foxgloves, sounds like a strip club positioned near an airport that middle-aged republican businessman frequent to pass the time between flights. Is it wrong that I found the “shade” being thrown this way fun and in line with my own political values of needing a change of the old republican guard like Knock Down the House or should I be afraid since I’m going to be entering the middle-aged white male in a few years anyway?
When it is all said and done, what you have is three very likable performers starring in a film that makes you think this is what happens when bad scripts happen to good actors. Quaid is effective here, while Good’s talents are limited in what the script is asking of her. I have always been a fan of Ealy’s; from Showtime’s Sleep Cell or his guest stint on The Good Wife to films like Barber Shop and Think Like A Man, he can jump back from multiple television to movie projects with ease. While their film is relatively innocuous, the symbolism of Quaid’s Charlie trying to regulate how the Russell’s changed the house they just bought is heavier handed than Thanos’s giant, meaty fingers.
I recently remarked the next film I watched after Redbox’s first step into original content, Benjamin would make me give the next film I review an additional star through rebound rose-colored glasses. Fortunately, I was able to recognize the over-the-top dialogue, the fact that The Intruder ignores how hospital admissions work, massive plot holes (the end of the film’s reveal is so ridiculous), and that with a simple installation of a Ring video camera would have solved most of The Russell’s’ problems. The fact of the matter is while this is all in harmless fun, it’s overripe. Even at 90-minutes, the movie is more of an exercise in running out the clock than the edge of your seat suspense.
M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.