THE INTRUDER / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: DEON TAYLOR / SCREENPLAY: DAVID LOUGHERY / STARRING: MICHAEL EALY, MEGAN GOOD, DENNIS QUAID, JOSEPH SIKORA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Relentless formulaic and derivative - and often downright scream-at-the-screen stupid - The Intruder takes us nowhere cinema hasn’t taken us dozens of time before. We’ve all seen films like The Intruder more than once; fresh-faced newbies take residence in their dream home only to find their idyllic lifestyle disrupted by some threat from outside their circle. Here it’s Dennis Quaid as widower Charlie, previous owner of the palatial new country home of thrusting professionals Scott and Annie Howard (Ealy and Good), who won’t give the young couple a moment’s peace. He turns up unbidden after they’ve moved in, to mow their expansive lawn, he ingratiates his way into their Thanksgiving dinner party, and he helps put up the Christmas decorations. He’s everywhere he shouldn’t be and it doesn’t look as if his planned move to join his daughter in Florida is going to happen any time soon. You could write the script, you know what’s coming. Charlie becomes more and more desperate and unhinged and things take a nasty turn for the worse in ways you’ll see coming from at least as far away as the end of the house’s long driveway.
The Intruder is an achingly silly movie in which people do incredibly stupid things, subplots that seem to be attempting to add some light and shade to stereotype characters go absolutely nowhere and the story comes to a dead stop as if it’s completely run out of ideas or, more accurately, completely exhausted the potential of the one idea it was working with. Scott and Annie are a pretty dim-witted couple. He works ‘in the city’ and there are odd vague references to his wandering eye and his tendency to flirt, Annie writes for magazines but we never seen her so much as think of picking up a pen - yet they earn enough to cough up an eye-watering $3.3 million to buy Charlie’s gaff and then almost completely redecorate it. As Charlie becomes more and more of a worry - and Scott eventually finds out the truth about his past - it’s hard not to despair at Annie who still feels sorry for the old boy and persists in inviting him into their home at the most inopportune times, usually when Scott’s indisposed. At one point Scott’s hospitalised when he’s knocked off the road during a morning jog; Annie’s with him in hospital but he sends her home at dead of night, fully aware that there’s a potential psychopath on the prowl with designs on the house and, possibly, Annie herself.
It’s thriller-by-numbers stuff and redeemed largely by a wide-eyed performance from Quaid who oozes quiet understated malice. The Intruder, from its hokey title to its predictable denouement, is the very definition of cookie-cutter modern thriller moviemaking, passing the time but you really wouldn’t want it in your house.