The Intruder (2019)
The Intruder (2019) movie review
The Intruder is a thriller starring Michael Ealy and Meagan Good as a married couple who move from the city to the suburbs after purchasing a house form Dennis Quaid’s Charlie Peck. However, they soon discover that Charlie might have trouble letting go of his property… Fun fact: I wanted to review The Intruder (1962) and this new film, until I realized that not only did the William Shatner film have nothing to do with this one, it’s not even in the same genre.
The Intruder is Thriller 101, complete with just about every worn-out trope that has come to define every thriller dealing with a crazy person, a house, or any combination with the two. However where Greta (2019) made at least some effort to inject original moments into the mix, Intruder seems completely content being a predictable cliché. To be fair, the film has its moments, and if the quality were consistently solid, the film would at least be stylistically enjoyable. Instead it winds up being a confusing jumble of good and bad.
While the story itself is not terrible, the film doesn’t support it very well with its characters. Dennis Quaid never comes off as likable early on, so you never feel the same way the characters feel at first, but he’s also never sympathetic, so you never see anything more than the characters see either. In other words, Charlie is a two-dimensional antagonist who exists to serve up a few jump-scares. The protagonists, Scott and Annie, are also very hard to relate to, as their constant marital issues serve to distance us from liking them instead of sympathizing with them as real people. On top of that, they are rich. Want to make likable leads? Don’t make stupidly rich characters your leads, especially if they could easily be replaced by middle class people.
Another odd choice The Intruder makes is not justifying the characters’ inability to resolve situations. Say what you will about typical thriller and horror films, at least they give a bad reason for the characters not to call 9-1-1. Intruder doesn’t even try, forcing the audience to constantly say ‘But’ and ‘How’ at a majority of the character choices. Some of these are very small, like hilariously ringing a doorbell and knocking on the door at the same time, while some are large problems like the aforementioned failure to be calling 9-1-1. Don’t get me wrong, there are some rather interesting story beats, along with one little twist that I rather enjoyed! It’s just not a sensical film, and when you have unrelatable characters making unrealistic choices, you alienate just about everyone watching.
Quality was interestingly hit or miss, as I said before. Cinematography was often very compelling, with some solid camera work and even moments that feel like they could become iconic in a better film. However, for every solid shot, there’s a badly framed one or one shot with an angle that makes Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) look good. There are even a few shots where the focus comes in too soft, which could even be covered up with a shot that knew where to have the audience look. The lighting and editing are the same way, with some shots of scenes lit and cut very well, and some that just look terribly sloppy.
I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but the performances are just as up and down as the rest of the film. Michael Ealy goes a long way to sell his performance, but instead of coming off as rightfully paranoid, he comes off as recklessly overbearing. However he does have a few moments where he completely sells both the role and the character, including the finest scene of acting in the film! Meagan Good does the exact opposite, often not giving enough in her performance to support such a strongly opinionated character, but every once in a while giving the perfect amount. Her scenes with Dennis Quaid actually bring out her best acting, and her scenes with Michael Ealy bring out her worst. Dennis Quaid is also very interesting in this film, and that might be an imbalance in directing. He totally commits to the character in every way, which mostly pays off as one of the film’s strongest aspects. On the flip side, there are so many moments where the director should have asked him to tone it down and didn’t, and those moments are the laughably bad moments. There are a few scenes in particular that are bafflingly silly, which don’t work well when the character is supposed to be actually terrifying.
The picture I found for this review was titled “Dennis Quaid being creepy,” and that about sums it up. It’s not a good movie in any sense, it just happens to have some solid moments that make it occasionally entertaining. For that, I’ll say it’s not a terrible movie either. It’s grab-bag of quality makes it sporadic and confusing, and the lackluster story mixed with generally poor character writing leads to a rather dull watch, with only the sparse moments of good quality or frequently hilarious moments of poor-quality offering as reprieve. If all you want from your moviegoing experience is a thriller that serves to give you something to do for two hours, The Intruder is not the worst film out there. But if you are looking for a competent film that can entertain with any level of consistent quality, pick literally anything else to watch, because The Intruder really isn’t worth your time. 4/10
-review by Ryan Prince