There’s A Quaid In Your House: Our Review of ‘The Intruder’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - May 03, 2019
There’s A Quaid In Your House: Our Review of ‘The Intruder’

Do you like domestic thrillers? I sure do! So as soon as I saw Dennis Quaid’s psychotic mug leering out from within the red title letters on the poster for The Intruder, I knew this would be the film for me. For anyone else, mileage may vary.

From a script by David Loughery (no stranger to the genre, having penned the Beyoncé/Idris Elba vehicle Obsessed and the deliriously great and underappreciated Lakeview Terrace), The Intruder begins as many of these movies do. Annie and Scott Russell (Meagan Good and Michael Ealy) are a young, pretty married couple who want to move to the country to start a family. He’s the “top earner at the company” and she’s “a writer for women’s magazines” so we know they’re bright and successful, especially since they can afford to buy a gorgeous multi-million dollar home in Napa Valley that is shrouded in woods and natural beauty. Unfortunately for them, the previous owner is a Mr. Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid), and he doesn’t seem to really want to leave.

Dennis Quaid intrudes, and intrudes often, as the titular intruder of this film, playing essentially the opposite character as he did over a decade ago in Cold Creek Manor (Stephen Dorff was the intruder there). I’ve never really cared either way about Dennis Quaid (Randy, on the other hand…) but boy oh boy does he ever go for it here, letting those veteran acting chops shine through in the process. First playing it as a kindly, lonely old man who lost his wife to cancer before morphing into full on loony Jack Torrance mode, Quaid handles the escalating tension with ease and keeps us guessing. I mean, it’s obvious that Charlie is a psycho from the start but we’re never totally sure what his deal is exactly and the film keeps upping the ante with his increasingly crazy behavior. Quaid plays the role as if his entire career was building up to this moment, freakily standing out in the woods at night and contorting his face into looks that are going to haunt my nightmares for weeks.

Sure, there are definitely missed opportunities here as well. Director Deon Taylor hints at some of the racial implications of the story, especially when Charlie shows up sporting a red baseball cap in multiple scenes, but never goes beyond that to give the story any kind of deeper undercurrent. While Good and Ealy are both charismatic and engaging, the Russells don’t really have much personality beyond the vague caricatures they’re given, with a brief subplot about Scott’s infidelity going nowhere and Annie’s initial claims of writing about “self-empowerment” going largely unfulfilled within her own character’s distracted behavior. Just like in his previous film, last year’s Paula Patton thriller Traffik, Taylor falters when dealing with the serious real-world stuff.

But the beauty of The Intruder is that it basically knows what it is and delivers the goods in spades. Whenever Charlie literally pops up out of nowhere to scare our protagonists or maniacally raves about “respecting MY house” or does any number of hella creepy things, any lingering issues melt away. The preview audience I saw it with ate up every bit of it.

It may go through the motions but when it hits that perfect domestic thriller trifecta of being alternately scary, queasy and funny, it’s clearly doing something right.

  • Release Date: 5/3/2019
This post was written by
After his childhood dream of playing for the Mighty Ducks fell through, Mark turned his focus to the glitz and glamour of the movies. He's covered the extensive Toronto film scene for online outlets and is a filmmaker himself, currently putting the final touches on a low-budget (okay, no-budget) short film to be released in the near future. You can also find him behind the counter as product manager of Toronto's venerable film institution, Bay Street Video.
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