“THE INTRUDER” stars Meagan Good, Dennis Quaid and Michael Ealy. It’s directed by Deon Taylor and follows a young married couple that leave the city-life behind them to buy a picturesque home on a large plot of land in the Napa countryside. The only problem is the previous owner is a very odd and mysterious man that has trouble letting go of the property. Something that very quickly impacts the lives of this couple.
These contained, home-invasion type thrillers come out routinely. Some are good. Some feel less than inspired, but regardless I think they’re a ton of fun when done right. The grounded scenarios are easy to relate to and naturally being able to place yourself in the position of the characters generates suspense that can sometimes make-up for a formulaic script. That’s what I hoped for out of this one, and with a solid cast I felt this movie had the potential to deliver some tension filled entertainment. But sadly, it was not able to capitalize on the opportunities it had because this was a serviceable film at best on many levels.
However, there were some bright spots. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance from Dennis Quaid. He felt innocent and harmless one minute, then sinister and calculating the next. I think he was compelling in this role and certainly made the most of the material. The insanity of this character was more of a plot-device than it was a layered dynamic of the story that was explored for the sake of building suspense. Yet Quaid still provided this film the menacing character that it needed. Regardless of the fact I think he could have done so much more with this role. Had the focus been more to explore his personality rather than simply serving as window dressing to a routine genre film.
There were also a couple of well-crafted scenes that built genuine tension and uneasiness later in the film that I enjoyed. The lighting at times creates an ominous feeling that was effective for a handful of scenes as well. I also think the main seed to the overall plot-line, with this man being unable to let go of his home was interesting. It could have been developed much deeper to create a more impactful connection with the viewer. But even with surface-level depth it was enough to keep the overall narrative moving forward to maintain just enough curiosity as to how things would close. Despite it being admittedly predictable.
Both Good and Ealy were solid in their performances as well but with the writing they very much felt like characters in a story, and not real humans. I didn’t really connect with them and it was to no fault of their performances. The backdrop to both was simplistic and it resulted in some stiff characters. Ones that have some chemistry with one another to sell their relationship but not unique personalities of their own. And that is for one reason only. That being how they were written. They routinely make the opposite decision that common sense would tell most people, simply to keep the story moving exactly where they wanted it to.
This is where the film lost me. Being a routine genre film is never a deal-breaker. But not being able to connect with, invest in, or relate to, the main characters is often going to be an issue in terms of entertainment. And it was a glaring weakness in this film as time and again choices are made that defy normal thinking. Random lines of dialogue are tossed in here and there to build mild reasoning, but it didn’t stick with too many head scratching choices being made. Add those issues with a story-line that doesn’t maintain a smooth pace or flow and what is left feels like a collection of genre-tropes and cliches taped together.
We get our newly married couple moving from the city to the country. They have a set of friends to provide a couple more disposable characters. The studio polish is heavily present, everyone is always picture perfect. All of which lacks authenticity because of placement and how they just feel like a series of formulaic sequences strung together. Just going through the motions with no true feeling of genuine emotion to any of it. It does have some fun with the approach of the film being there for amusement. But in this genre adding more layers and not opting for a lighter tone can result in lasting films. This one felt artificial when it could have woven a gripping thriller. It was engaging at times because of its blatant predictability and convenient story-telling but it’s also a forgettable film. And had it added some layers to Quaid’s character, and showed more ambition in being unique to create more of a gritty atmosphere this could have been a surprise hit.