REVIEW: ‘The Intruder’ Makes Home Invasion Horror Personal

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In The Intruder, directed by Deon Taylor and written by David Loughery, buying a home is scary, but not for the reasons you may think. It isn’t about your credit score, the location, or the title company, it’s the seller that you should be worried about.

The film focuses on the lives of a married couple, Scott (Michael Ealy) and Annie Russell (Meagan Good), as they buy their dream home in Napa Valley, California. Sure, Scott will have to make the commute to work in San Francisco, but to start a family, Annie wanted to return to a small-town feel. After earning a large raise at his company Scott is able to buy Annie her dream home from Charlie (Dennis Quaid), a mysterious and lonely widower. Ready to open a new door in their lives, their picture-perfect life in the country is turned into a living nightmare when Charlie begins to reveal that he is still attached to the house.

Their newfound paradise soon turns into a living nightmare when Charlie, who is still strangely attached to the house, begins to show up and interfere in their daily lives. Throughout the second act of The Intruder, the tension builds as Charlie’s behavior becomes more erratic, his gaze on Annie becomes more focused and his erratic behavior clearly turns into an obsession that expands past his old property.As the violence escalates and the obsession becomes undeniable, the young couple soon finds themselves caught up in a violent confrontation that threatens to destroy their lives and their dream home.

As far as home invasion horror goes, this film plays out as expected. That being said, it is executed well and not every film needs to remake the genre. In the past few years we have seen horror diversify in front of the camera, the plot we see is one we see in many home invasion films. Loving couple in a well-off area, isolated for some reason, too trusting of the outside, and thus chaos ensues. However, The Intruder is led by two Black actors whose characters are successful, healthy, and happy.

The fact that the film is ordinary is a testament to the growing inclusion of people of color in the genre, specifically for Black actors. And although there may be a way to look at race in this film, I am not of the position to do so. From my viewing, there is power in having Black leads just be an upper-class couple trying to start a family, the same existence in film that has been offered up to white actors, especially in a subgenre like home invasion built on helpless women alone in their houses. For a history of Black horror to put this into context and explain the importance of changing these tropes, check out the Shudder exclusive documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror.

Now, the film has the same issues as most theater horror and home invasions. The dialogue between characters is awkward at times that it should be intimate or friendly, but to their credit, each actor does well with their parts. Unfortunately, the bad decisions that Annie makes are almost unforgivable, specifically the multiple times Charlie is allowed into the couple’s home after showcasing creeping and from their perspective borderline stalking behavior.

With that said, Quaid as Charlie is terrifying. Maintaining a Joker-like smile for the majority of his screen time, Charlie is every homeowner’s nightmare and had me thankful that I bought a new-build instead of a pre-owned home. As a villain, Quaid is downright chilling and in one scene my stomach churned as he attacked Annie.

For the life of me, I can’t remember the last time I was terrified of a home invader like I was of Charlie. This is due in large part to the fact that this isn’t a stranger. This is the widower who sold the couple their home, came to Thanksgiving dinner, and had an intimate understanding of the property and the couple prior to them realizing the harm he would cause.

While Annie’s consistent bad choices propelled the plot along, Scott is the audience. Between the two he has always been worried about the man who showed up with a gun the first time they met. Having never felt at ease, like the audience, Scott calls out some of the decisions made by Annie. Which, for my Scream Back Screening, a screening where the audience is encouraged to be vocal while watching, the audience was right along with him. Why can’t his wife just tell Charlie to get out and stay out?

The third act of the film picks up from the slow pace in the first two-thirds. In fact, the build-up to the final confrontation and revelation that Charlie is the intruder took too much time. In all honesty, the reveals and action could have come at least 15-minutes faster, compressing some of the build-ups, that while good, was repetitive. Ultimately, we didn’t need a jump scare from Charlie in the middle of the night multiple times, because, by the fourth one it had lost its effect. With that said, the finale was well paced and well done.

Overall, The Intruder is a solid home invasion, no more and no less. If you’re looking for one of those, head to the theater this weekend for creepy Dennis Quaid. But, if you’re looking for a horror film beyond jump scares and the traditional home invasion formula, you might just want to save the cost of the ticket.

The Intruder opens nationwide in theaters May 3, 2019.

The Intruder
  • 5/10
    Rating - 5/10
5/10

TL;DR

Overall, The Intruder is a solid home invasion, no more and no less. If you’re looking for one of those, head to the theater this weekend for creepy Dennis Quaid. But, if you’re looking for a horror film beyond jump scares and the traditional home invasion formula, you might just want to save the cost of the ticket.