There are no surprises in The Intruder — well, maybe one — so if you’ve seen the trailer, you know exactly what to expect. Michael Ealy and Meagan Good play Scott and Annie Russell, a well-heeled San Francisco couple who buy a $3-million-plus country home from its creepy owner, Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid).
But Charlie never quite leaves and becomes increasingly unhinged to the point of violence (see title).
And that’s it, folks. That’s the movie. As I hinted, there’s perhaps one twist you might not see coming, but the rest unfolds pretty much as you would imagine. There’s the big, old house with its creaky closets and corridors in the middle of the woods. There’s an uncomfortable dinner party with Charlie and the Russells’ two best friends. There’s poorly motivated marital discord, and Annie’s seeming inexplicably charmed by a guy who’s clearly bad news.
As Annie, Good is a generally a charming presence despite her character’s inconsistencies, and Ealy does uptight to a T. Alas, both actors are handicapped by the inevitably idiotic decisions demanded by the plot, such as an apparently haphazard inspection of their own home before moving in. (Why on earth would they agree to purchase Charlie’s dusty furnishings and out-of-date art?)
The one pleasure, mild though it is, is watching insurance spokesmodel Quaid chewing up the scenery in the role of resident psychopath. He scrunches up his now rubbery face into countless overwrought expressions and seems both menacing and ridiculous, as screenwriter David Loughery intends. It’s pure B-movie madness, but it may bring a smile to your face now and again (at inappropriate moments).
This is director Deon Taylor’s second home-invasion thriller in a row, having besieged another African-American couple under different circumstances in last year’s Traffik. He seems to think low-angle shots are inherently frightening and often resorts to hand-held point-of-view shots that aren’t from anyone’s point of view except his. His visual arsenal could use a few new tricks. A glaring reference to The Shining smacks more of desperation than wit.
But freshness does not appear to be a goal of The Intruder, which happily plows through its genre plot points on its way to a mercifully abrupt finale. It’s not terrible, exactly. It’s just rather pointless.
Grade: D. Rated PG-13. Playing at the AMC River Hills, Biltmore Grande, and Carolina Cinemark.
(Photo: Screen Gems)