Quick Hit: Dennis Quaid as a thriller villain? Count me in.
When you watch as many horror movies as I do, it’s easy to get sucked into all the different things that a film may be trying to say. For instance, The Intruder can be construed in many ways. On one hand, it’s a B-movie type schlock fest that allows its very famous lead the joy and the privilege to play someone a little unhinged. On another, it’s a desconstruction of the difference between generations and their definitions of masculinity. Deeper still, it tells the story of racial change and a tipping of the scales in many areas of the country. But on a whole, without terrific execution, a lot of these messages get lost or at least mixed, and so you’re left with a movie that doesn’t quite stick out the way something like Get Out did.
The Intruder stars Dennis Quaid as Charlie Peck, an older white man who is introduced to the audience (and the other characters) by shooting a deer with a shotgun while wearing a red baseball cap. Subtle this entrance is not. He is the proud owner of Foxglove, a multi-million dollar home on the outskirts of Napa. He’s selling it, however, after the death of his wife, in order to pay off debts. The couple interested in the house is Scott (Michael Ealy) and Annie Russell (Meagan Good). Scott is new money – self-made, black, young, and cultured. He doesn’t like guns, is shit at home repairs, and yet, Annie loves him enough to forgive past mistakes. There’s an instant conflict between Charlie and Scott that is set when Charlie hints that Scott may not be able to afford the home, and Scott buys it, nearly out of spite. It’s probably one of the most interesting parts of the movie, and something that is only hinted at throughout rather than diving into the film.
That’s because the movie is far more interested in letting Annie make some of the absolute worst decisions I’ve ever seen in a horror film. I audibly scoffed a number of times throughout the film, and, as it was no doubt the intention, started talking to the screen, something I rarely do when sober. I shook my head as Annie first befriended and then continued to entertain Charlie, even when literally every interaction with him had a tint of something off. We all know where this movie is going – with a title like The Intruder, they’re not even hiding it – but sometimes it’s fun to take the journey there. In this case, the movie dives deep (and I mean really deep) into the B-movie pool.
Ealy, for his part, does a terrific job acting at times as an audience stand-in. He is one of the few that immediate recognizes that Charlie is a bit of a nut, and a dangerous one at that. His facial reactions to some of the dumb things Annie says and does are priceless. But, it’s Quaid who steals the show. Throughout the film, he exhibits a variety of manic attitudes, as well as moments of quiet solitude and depression that wouldn’t have been any less impressive an arthouse period drama. It’s seeing Quaid, who has often gravitated to the good guy roles throughout his films (even if they are tainted good guys, as all the best seem to be) stoop so low that makes the film so much fun at times.
What doesn’t help the film along is a terrible bit of music that seems to infect scenes that don’t ever ask for a musical undertone. At times, this score robs the small bits of tension that the acting has started to generate, and pushes us firmly back into laughter territory. I know this is the second time in as many posts that I’ve written about tone in film – but it’s important to know what type of film you’re making when you make it.
All and all – a fun ride, though a forgettable one. I’m going to give The Intruder a “C”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"