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New To DVD - THE INTRUDER

the intruder review
A couple is menaced by their new home's previous owner.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Deon Taylor

Starring: Meagan Good, Dennis Quaid, Michael Ealy, Erica Cerra, Joseph Sikora

the intruder dvd





From Bette Davis in The Nanny to Isabelle Huppert in this year's Greta, the thriller genre has a long-standing tradition of casting aging actresses in the roles of murderous psychopaths. With The Intruder, in which a 65-year-old Dennis Quaid gets to wield an axe with all the fury of Joan Crawford in 1964's Strait-Jacket, could we be seeing the emergence of a male variant on the sub-genre of 'Psycho-Biddy' thrillers? We are in the era of gender reversed movies after all.


the intruder 2019 review

Annie (Meagan Good) and Scott Howard (Michael Ealy) are the young couple who find themselves menaced by Quaid's Charlie Peck when they purchase his idyllic Napa Valley home to the tune of $3.3 million (which they consider a bargain - ugh, I wish I had paid more attention in school). Charlie seems like a bid of a sad case at first, relating the story of how the house just isn't the same since his wife succumbed to cancer, but there's something not quite right in his eyes. Anyhow, Charlie is leaving for Florida to live with his daughter, so no worries.

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In one of several plot beats taken from 1994's killer kid thriller The Paperboy, Annie is surprised to find Charlie mowing her lawn without her permission. Seems his departure to Florida has been delayed, and he figures he can spend some time helping Annie and Scott around the house. Annie is charmed by his country ways but cynical city slicker Scott is dubious about Charlie's attentions to his wife. With Scott spending more and more time in the city on work, Charlie becomes more of a permanent fixture in the home he seemingly refuses to let go.


the intruder 2019 review

Remove the marquee value of Quaid and The Intruder is practically indistinguishable from the sort of generic thrillers that evolved from clogging up video store shelves in the '90s to now padding out the schedule of the likes of the Lifetime Network. It's shot with the flatness of a soap opera and director Deon Taylor struggles to convey any tension or suspense visually, though there are a couple of nice moments where Charlie is revealed in the shadows by passing light sources.

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Its central trio consists of little more than a collection of thriller archetypes - the villain whose charming front masks a homicidal menace; the wife who only sees the best in him; and the husband who knows he's a wrong 'un from the start. The only thing interesting about them is how Ealy's Scott is portrayed as far from likeable, taking his wife for granted and making her feel like she owes him something for moving so far away from the city. But the movie never really pulls on the seams appearing in Scott and Annie's marriage. A far more interesting thriller might have had Annie begin to feel an attraction towards Charlie, who represents a conventional masculinity absent in her metrosexual husband.


the intruder 2019 review

There are two elements bubbling under the surface here which are similarly left unexplored. One is the generational divide between Charlie and Scott. Unlike baby boomer Charlie, who comes from an era when men knew a screwdriver was more than simply a fancy cocktail, Gen-Xer Scott is the sort of guy who thinks manual labour is the president of Nicaragua. And then there's the racial dynamic of a white man who equates a black woman with his property. The film isn't interested in exploring either of these points, likely because it's worried about causing offence. When did the thriller genre become so civilised?

The Intruder comes to UK DVD December 2nd.




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