A bat-crap crazy home invasion thriller, The Intruder spices up its hokey script and brain-dead characters with a bug-eyed turn from Dennis Quaid.
Annie (Meagan Good) and Scott (Michael Ealy) are just your typical happy upper-middle-class couple on the search for their new home. In the middle of Napa Valley, they find what seems to be the ideal place, a country estate called Foxglove. When they go to view the home, the meet the owner Charlie (Dennis Quaid), who introduces himself by shooting a deer about three feet in front of the couple (as you do). Instead of immediately god damn leaving and despite the couple’s selective tunnel vision, Annie falls in love with the home, Charlie offers a deal on the place, and the happy couple moves in. Only Charlie… doesn’t seem to want to move out.
By all rights, this should just be the typical ‘couple is haunted by creepy person’ narrative that screenwriter David Loughery (Obsessed, Lakeview Terrace) has been subsisting on for the past decade. But this time around, it’s so much more than that. The script itself is as paint-by-numbers as you would expect, but it is the characters that turn this film into the so-bad-it’s-amazing classic it deserves to become.
Good’s Annie Russell is a woman who has never existed in the history of time: she navigates the world without a single hint that men are capable of terrible things. She is oblivious to creepiness of any sort and trusts Charlie implicitly – even when he invades her personal space, shows up at her home unannounced, and regularly looks at her like a kindergarten psychopath left alone with the class gerbil. Honestly, if it wasn’t for her mythical naivete, the plot would have nowhere to go, but holy hell if her decisions aren’t the thing of pure fantasy. And despite it all, Good plays her as earnestly as anyone ever could. Every bad decision is portrayed with solid conviction, which only makes the film all the more hilarious.
And then there’s Charlie, the spiritual older uncle of Split’s The Beast. He is sneaky as all get out, seems to be summoned by lightning itself, ripped to the level of uncanny valley freakiness, and the motherfucker roars god damn lion! No hyperbole. Lion noises come out of his human mouth. Dennis Quaid plays this lunatic as if he will never get the chance to be a bad guy ever again.
The idea of Quaid as an evil dude did feel like a long shot, but his performance is nothing short of purely bugfuck. He may have either studied under Nic Cage for the past year or just went into this movie deciding that his only acting choice would be all the choices at once. It’s honestly impressive. In desperate need of any direction, but still, impressive.
The script itself is as paint-by-numbers as you would expect, but it is the characters that turn this film into the so-bad-it’s-amazing classic it deserves to become.
Which leaves poor Scott – Ealy is left playing the Bud Abbott to this whole bucket of crazy. From the very beginning, he knows buying this house is a bad idea. He quickly figures out that Charlie is crazy (spoilers). He gets in full on fights with his wife to finally get her to believe him. And what does he get for his troubles? A Tyler Perry-caliber C-story complete with an office Jezebel, a history of infidelity, and an equation that equates texting your wife with obvious cheating. Granted, it is nice to have a human character to relate to in this whole thing, but you can’t help but feel equally bad for Scott and Michael Ealy as they try their damndest to navigate this weird world.
As for direction, Deon Taylor sure did some of that – he hides Charlie all over the place and gives him the stealthy skill of a late-season Walking Dead zombie. The pacing is a bit hard to judge since it seemed to want nothing to do with this movie. Days only seem to matter if they’re near holidays.
For as overwhelmingly bad as The Intruder is, it just has to be seen. Watch with as many people as humanly possible. Make a night out of it. Call up old friends and some cool family. Everyone must be done to praise this film as the best worst movie of the year. Dennis Quaid gave his all for this piece of crazy; it’s only fair that we all do the same for him.