A young married couple buys a beautiful house on several acres of land, only to find out that the man they bought it from refuses to let go of the property. (from IMDb)
The thriller is an interesting movie genre. It's like those calmer rollercoasters at amusement parks; they're just enough of a thrill ride to get the blood pumping and maybe scare you a bit, but they're not quite nausea-inducing or unsettling enough to leave you shaken for the rest of the day. The PG-13 thriller, in particular, is much like that lighter version of "horror;" it's usually just exciting enough for those who don't like horror to get their pulse rate up, but doesn't rely so much on blood and gore for shock value. 2019's The Intruder does a good job of portraying some "lite" horror, while remaining well within the PG-13 realm to keep it more of a thriller than an outright horror flick.
The Intruder follows the story of a young, wealthy married couple--Scott and Annie--who decide to relocate to the countryside following the husband's recent job promotion. They find a charming old estate virtually in the middle of nowhere that is owned by a widower named Charlie Peck. Charlie is a bit of a reluctant seller, but he's taken by Scott and Annie, and wants them to have the home he'd previously made for his family. But even after the couple inevitably move in, they find that Charlie is a tough previous owner to get rid of, and he keeps mysteriously showing up in their lives--to disturbing results.
The cast of The Intruder help make the movie work when it does. Michael Ealy and Meagan Good are excellent as the central couple who buy Charlie's home. The film, however, hints at more trouble than is immediately obvious in the twosome's "perfect" little relationship, but the storytellers here don't do much to flesh that out. At first, some of the tensions between them seem silly before they're later explained away, but these are added tensions to the story that aren't really necessary. The struggle with Charlie's invasion of privacy is really all that's needed. But, if executed better, I can see the drama within the couple's relationship playing out much better. Acclaimed actor Dennis Quaid plays Charlie Peck as charming yet unhinged. It's weird to see a man who usually plays the good guy playing such a disturbing bad guy, but Quaid goes all-in to make it work--even when the material he has to work with doesn't really fare too well. He does tend to overplay Peck at times, though, going rather over-the-top with his performance. But when he plays the creepy just right, he's really good at it. Still, it makes me wonder if this wasn't quite the role for him. But again, I'm the kind of viewer who loved him in Frequency and Innerspace, so it's tough to see him playing a villain role here--kind of like Harrison Ford did in What Lies Beneath, but his villainy was much less immediately apparent in that role. Speaking of Ford, the house in The Intruder is just as much a character as the actors in this film. I remember the home vividly as Harrison's character's house in 2015's The Age of Adaline, and it's fun to see it getting even more screen time in this film. It's got a lot of character to it, and it makes the perfect setting for the events in this film (I can definitely see why Peck wouldn't want to let it go).
But strong cast aside, The Intruder is a mixed bag. For starters, the movie really rushes to get started. It opens with Scott receiving a surprise party by his wife and friends in the city, and in the next scene, they're already checking out the home in the country. At just an hour and 40 minutes running time, I think the story could have benefitted from a bit more setup. It's even given an abrupt ending, too, that feels a bit unsatisfying. I could see the movie working as a one-location kind of film where we never leave the house, and mysteries are revealed as the story goes along, but from the opening shot of a car speeding through the streets of the city, the film just feels rushed to start and rushed to end, with the rest of it slowing down to build the drama between Scott and Annie and Charlie. I hate to say it, but I'd kind of be interested to see how M. Night Shyamalan would have handled the direction of a story like this.
The content for the movie is entirely PG-13, if not a hard one at times. Scott uses the film's lone "F" word, and there are a pair of sensual love scenes between him and his wife. There are also hints at past infidelities, while a character seemingly plans to rape a woman in a later scene (but doesn't). There is no explicit nudity, but we do see Annie taking a shower and see her silhouette through a steamy glass door (but no real details), and Charlie is shown without a shirt a few times. We also see Annie in skimpy lingerie, especially when she and Scott disrobe in the kitchen while making out. Other profanities include several uses of the "S" word, occasional blasphemy, and some mild cussing. The violence is infrequent, and mostly kept to creepy stuff happening in the shadows, but one scene shows a man hitting another man in the chest with an ax (we don't see the details of the impact, but it's definitely intense), and then we see the body again later with a big bloody stain on their shirt. The finale is a frequently bloody and violent fight between two men and a woman, that concludes with a character taking a baseball bat to the head, and lying alive with blood on their face and gurgling out of their mouth.
If you're a fan of thrillers, or even the home invasion kind more specifically, The Intruder is a decent one, even though I'm sure better ones have been made before (admittedly, I haven't seen too many). This brand of thriller reminds me of the more acting driven kinds of films like Red Eye (which is one I did actually like), and should satisfy fans of the milder thrillers that only dabble in the horror genre like it. It's heavily flawed but surely not a complete mess; you certainly could do a lot worse in picking out a thriller to watch than Deon Taylor's The Intruder.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 7/28/19)
Deleted and Alternate Scenes (11:57) - "We're just here for the house" is another take of Charlie shooting the deer and startling Scott and Annie. "Grandkidsí room" has Charlie showing Scott and Annie a room in his house that Ellen had turned into a grandkids room, if they were to ever have grandkids. "Venison" shows Charlie cutting the deer and skinning it and cutting meat off of it while seeming really enjoy it. "Bye Charlie" is a longer version of him leaving after Scott and Annie take ownership of the house. In this version, Charlie makes a wish for her in the fountain in front of the house. "This wallpaper" shows Scott and Annie lying in bed and Scott verbalizes that they should change the ugly wallpaper in the bedroom. "Ellen?" shows Charlie being creepy, making faces at himself in a mirror. When he lays down to sleep, he starts looking around in a spooky manner, calling for his late wife. It really shows how clearly disturbed the man is. The "Alternate ending" is an odd one. It plays out exactly like the normal cut's ending does, but adds a little onto the movie afterwards. The new moments add a hint of mystery that maybe Charlie lived through the ending. It flashes back to the chase in the tunnels that shows Charlie looking at a bulletproof vest hanging on a rack. It then shows him looking out a window in the house, as if he's still around, creeping about. It's actually a pretty dumb idea, poorly executed, and leaves a lot to wonder (like, sure, he may be alive, but they called the cops. Wouldn't they have found him alive and locked him up?) (1 "p*ssy" in that last scene.)
Making a Modern Thriller (12:25) - This featurette is about how the movie and story came together, the cast, and finding the right house for the film. There is a little profanity that wasn't edited out here, so there's 1 "F" word, 2 "S" words, 1 "Chr-st," and 1 "a" word. It's otherwise a pretty good making-of featurette.
Gag Reel (3:08) - This gag reel shows the cast and crew making mistakes and goofing off on set. It looks like they had some real fun making this one. (1 "S" word)
Finally, the only other feature on the DVD is a Feature Commentary with Deon Taylor, Roxanne Avent, David Loughery, Meagan Good, and Michael Ealy- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 7/27/19)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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