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The Intruder (2019) Movie Review

The Intruder (2019) movie poster The Intruder

Theatrical Release: May 3, 2019 / Running Time: 102 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Deon Taylor / Writer: David Loughery

Cast: Michael Ealy (Scott Howard), Meagan Good (Annie Howard), Joseph Sikora (Mike), Erica Cerra (Jillian Richards), Alvina August (Rachel), Kurt Evans (Grady Kramer), Lili Sepe (Cassidy Peck Thompson), Raylene Harewood (Ice Cream Girl), Dennis Quaid (Charlie Peck)

 

Dennis Quaid has undergone a fairly typical progression of a male movie star. He began as a young hunk,
holding leading man duties by his late twenties in movies like Breaking Away, Jaws 3-D, and The Right Stuff. Upon entering his forties, Quaid became a dad type, initially to kids (The Parent Trap, Frequency, The Day After Tomorrow) and then to young adults. He also was a natural fit for authority figures, from a sketchy rich person attorney in Traffic to the President in American Dreamz. Now at 65, Quaid seems to embark upon a new phase of his career with The Intruder, playing a creepy old man.

Quaid plays Charlie Peck, a Napa Valley widower who is selling his large family house, an estate he calls Foxglove. The place is just what Annie Howard (Meagan Good) has been dreaming of since she encouraged her husband of several years, successful businessman Scott (Michael Ealy), to relocate from San Francisco so that they can start a family.

Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid) makes an uncomfortable first impression on prospective home buyers Scott (Michael Ealy) and Annie Howard (Meagan Good) in 2019's "The Intruder."

Charlie gives the Howards a good fright in their first meeting, shooting a deer roaming the woods on the property mere steps away from them. That secretly earns the friendly homeowner the nickname "Bambi Killer" from Scott, but it's only part of the strange first impression he makes on the thirtysomething couple. Having lost his wife to cancer two years ago and had their two kids grow up and move out, Charlie is reluctant to part with his longtime home, but he strikes a deal with the Howards for just over $3 million, mostly because Annie is just that crazy about the place.

We can sense something off about Charlie long before our protagonists do. He seems weirdly attached to the home, his eyes glazing over in silent rage as Scott announces planned renovations. But Charlie, who after the sale is staying at a nearby hotel while making dubious preparations to move to Florida, shows up at the house and mows the lawn like it's nothing. He then lands a Thanksgiving invitation from Annie, who is sympathetic to his sad situation.

Charlie continues to show up uninvited at Foxglove again and again, always having a reason that is good enough for Annie but not good enough to keep Scott from being uneasy. He grows increasingly suspicious of the widower and asks a friend to dig up dirt on him after another neighbor hints that Mrs. Peck didn't actually die from cancer.

Dennis Quaid goes full creep as Charlie Peck in "The Intruder."

The Intruder is written by David Loughery. Not to be confused with the homonymous writer-director of A Ghost Story and The Old Man & the Gun, this Loughery wrote Star Trek V: The Final Frontier,
a couple of early '90s Wesley Snipes vehicles, and Disney's Tom and Huck. In more recent years, Loughery has been a key contributor to PG-13 thrillers, which happens to be one of the primary niches of Sony's Screen Gems labels. Screen Gems released the Loughery-scripted Lakeview Terrace (2008) and Obsessed (2009), both profitable with medium sized budgets of $20 million a piece. They also distribute The Intruder, which has been made even more frugally at just $8 million.

While Screen Gems thrillers are usually pretty good at making money, they're not very good at getting good reviews and The Intruder will undoubtedly extend that tradition. That's because Loughery's thriller could only thrill someone who have never seen this kind of movie before and even then I wouldn't bet on it. It's a standard issue by-the-numbers production that largely just swaps the races of the Lakeview Terrace design. Not that there is the racial element there was to that Neil LaBute-directed flick. Like a lot of other Screen Gems releases (No Good Deed, When the Bough Breaks, Proud Mary), Intruder invites "urban" designation with a diverse cast and two African-American leads. That may factor into the target audience of the film, but not its narrative or execution.

Even at well under two hours, Intruder pushes its thin premise far, asking us to accept that this Charlie could keep turning up again and again -- with Christmas lights assistance, a sympathy pizza, a bottle of wine from a neighbor's vineyard -- without raising any significant alarm from the woman of the house or getting the troubled Scott (whose name could be an homage to Teen Wolf) to draw a line in the sand, which he does, eventually.

Quaid is adept in full-on creep mode, which I don't think we've seen him do before, though there's a lot on his resume I have neither seen nor felt a great desire to see. The young leads do what the movie asks of them, which is largely just to look attractive and attractive enough to forgive them for their increasingly poor judgment.

Still, The Intruder, which is directed by Deon Taylor (Meet the Blacks, last year's Traffik), does not really qualify as a success by any standard. It's better enjoyed for its amusement value, which can be considerable when Quaid creeps it up or our leads fail to recognize blatant warning signs, than for registering as unsettling for more than the infrequent jump scare shot.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: Avengers: Endgame The Curse of La Llorona Pet Sematary
Dennis Quaid: Kin Gang Related Traffic The Words Innerspace Truth Breaking Away
Michael Ealy: About Last Night For Colored Girls Last Vegas Think Like a Man Miracle at St. Anna
Meagan Good: Jumping the Broom The Love Guru
Good People Teen Wolf

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Reviewed May 2, 2019.



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