If there’s anything to learn from The Intruder, releasing on Blu-ray/DVD tomorrow, it’s that actor Dennis Quaid needs to be in ALL of the horror films now. And when you’re looking to buy a house, and your introduction to the owner is them cold-bloodedly shooting a deer right in front of you, you get your ass back to the city and never look back…
…At least that’s what I would do if I were Annie (Meagan Good) and Scott (Michael Ealy), a cute city living couple who decide to start a new life in the great outdoors, much to Scott’s chagrin. Directed by Deon Taylor (Traffik) and written by David Loughery (Dreamscape), The Intruder revolves around what happens when Scott and Annie decide to buy a house from sad, old Charlie (Quaid). Yeah, Charlie is a little weird, but Annie thinks he’s harmless…until he starts showing up unannounced, and taking a creepy interest in Annie that has Scott on edge. So, what are Scott and Annie supposed to do when the previous owner of their new home refuses to leave?
The synopsis for The Intruder isn’t anything all that original, and in that, it’s your average sexy thriller, albeit with some phenomenal performances from the cast. Annie and Scott are believable as a couple that loves each other but has problems eating away at them underneath the surface. But the real star here is Dennis Quaid, who steals every goddamn scene he’s in. This is one of Quaid’s few, if not only, full blown villainous performances, and the guy absolutely nails it. Talk to anyone who saw The Intruder when it came out earlier this year, and the first thing they’ll tell you is how mind-blowingly sinister Quaid is as the unhinged Charlie. Not since Jaws 3-D has Quaid impressed me so deeply with his performance. Just kidding, but Jaws 3-D is great, and made better with Quaid, who has aged like a fine wine.
At its core, The Intruder is essentially Fatal Attraction with Dennis Quaid. Okay, so Charlie and Annie aren’t ex-lovers like Michael Douglas and Glenn Close are in that film, but that doesn’t stop Charlie from stopping by whenever he can to get another good look at Annie, especially whenever Scott isn’t home, something the jealous city boy isn’t too thrilled about. Charlie helps Annie set up Christmas lights, stops over for Thanksgiving, and breaks in to watch her in the shower. You know, like all previous homeowners do. Quaid is excellent at twisting and contorting his face into various forms of pain and anger. Charlie is a troubled guy, haunted by the death (or murder) of his wife, Ellen, and it shows. Often. I especially enjoyed small touches to emphasize Charlie’s predatory instincts, like when he’s watching Annie in the shower, and the sound of a tiger growling is played over his unnerving smile. I always knew Quaid was part-tiger.
The Intruder is about how we put our heart and soul into our homes. Whenever we move into a new place, it rarely feels like home right away, because deep down, you can still sense the presence of whoever used to live there. In a sense, Charlie is haunting Annie and Scott by refusing to let his memories be destroyed. That’s the scary part that sets this film apart from others like it, and for the most part, it’s pretty effective. It’s frightening to think you could never feel comfortable in a new place, knowing that the owner might be lurking nearby…and has the hots for your wife…and may actually have murdered his own wife…and is a buff, terrifying Dennis Quaid.
Still, the thing that bugs me about the film, and I hate to say it because Good and Ealy are fantastic, is the relationship between the couple. I can appreciate the way their warm, sexy romance gets flipped on its head once they move into their new home, but there just isn’t enough done with it to make this an interesting conflict. Both characters are jealous people, and Charlie’s intrusion leads to the occasional fight between the two, but this aspect of the film never quite goes anywhere that has a major impact on the story the way it could have, like mistrust between the two pushing Annie closer to Charlie, and ends up feeling like a pretty standard relationship in this type of thriller.
Basic plot aside, Quaid is worth the watch alone, and will certainly give chills to anyone looking for a decent thriller that will make them think twice about taking down the previous owner’s ugly tapestry.
As far as the special features on The Intruder Blu-ray/DVD go, it’s your standard collection of deleted scenes that offer nothing new or interesting, a gag reel that’s more cute than funny, and an alternate ending that’s really more of an add on that was thankfully cut, considering it completely takes the air out of the shocking blow the film delivers in the final seconds.
That being said, the featurette, Making a Modern Thriller: Behind-the-Scenes of Foxglove, offers some interesting insight into the characters populating The Intruder. Not surprisingly, a lot of that focus has to do with Charlie and what makes him tick, and everyone has nothing but praise for Quaid’s performance in the role. A laid-back Quaid wearing a spiked punk shirt during his interview is the icing on the cake of this short treat.
For fellow film nerds though, the commentary is where it’s at. The Intruder commentary collects a host of those involved with the film, including director Deon Taylor, writer David Loughery, Meagan Good and Michael Ealy. Unlike some commentaries which can drone on a bit, the cast/crew is having a great time here, cracking jokes and poking fun at each other all while detailing some hilarious anecdotal behind-the-scenes stories of the film, such as Good’s preparation for her very first sex scene. Taylor gets deep into the choices behind various shots and how they were set up, while also providing some fascinating history on the cinematographer who shot the film, Daniel Pearl, who many horror fans will know from his work on both the original and remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So, if you want to know what Quaid is like on set, or what Taylor’s biggest regret with the film is, you’ll want to check out this entertaining commentary.
The Intruder invades your home on Blu-Ray/DVD TOMORROW from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
By Matt Konopka