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)
DVD Special Features Review
The Intruder is available in the usual combo pack varieties or on DVD separately. We were sent the DVD to review–which includes NO digital copy–and, being as conditioned to watching films in high definition as I am, I’d recommend skipping the DVD and picking up the Blu-Ray if you have HD capabilities. Apparently, in 2019, Sony still makes some pretty poor quality DVDs, and while The Intruder isn’t the worst picture quality I’ve seen, it’s certainly among the lower end of even the DVD spectrum.
The following extras can be found on the DVD:
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. “Grandkids’ 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)
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: Scott and Annie (who are married) start making out in their new kitchen. He takes her overalls off, revealing her skimpy underwear. They kiss and grope at each other and he kisses her bare thigh and takes off his own shirt. It’s all set to a romantic R&B song, and the scene ends before they take it past kissing and caressing; The camera focuses on Annie’s clothed butt as what Charlie looks at longingly; A woman kisses Scott, who is married, but he stops her and says he can’t do it; Annie recalls that Scott only has texted instead of calling her in the past when he had cheated on her before; Scott and Annie make out. We see her in underwear and him shirtless as she straddles him on the floor. Charlie looks on watching; We Annie’s head and bare shoulders in bathtub. She hears something, prompting her to get out, and we then see her wrapped in a robe; Annie helps with Charlie’s injured ankle and he acts (sexually) intoxicated by her when she’s not looking; We see the silhouette of Annie’s body through a steamy glass door while she’s taking a shower. Charlie watches her through the doorway and takes off his shirt while contemplating on going in after her. The phone rings and he disappears. She walks around in her robe looking around; Charlie tries to subdue Annie and tries to kiss her neck as they struggle; While she’s unconscious, Charlie pulls Annie’s shirt up with his teeth (it falls back down, and nothing explicit is seen) and licks up her clothed shirt and her cleavage and neck. She wakes up and they struggle;
Vulgarity/Language: 1 “F” word, 6 “S” words, 1 “g*dd*mn,” 6 “d*mn,” 7 “h*ll,” 1 “a” word, 3 “Oh my G-d,” 1 “Oh G-d,” 1 “G-d,” 1 “p*ssy”
Alcohol/Drugs: We see Scott & Annie drinking with friends at dinner; Charlie brings them a bottle of wine as a gift. He opens it with Annie and they drink some together; Scott goes to a bar with clients; Scott and Annie find Charlie drinking at a hotel bar. Scott and Charlie do rounds of shots together; Charlie and Annie have wine with a pizza dinner.
Blood/Gore: We see dead deer with a bloody hole on its neck briefly. We see it again later with blood on its mouth as Charlie carries it to his shed. He then cuts it open as it hangs upside down (We don’t see the gore); Charlie smashes a bottle on a man’s head and we briefly see some blood on the victim’s head before we realize it’s something he’s imagining and hasn’t actually done; In a flashback, a woman puts a shotgun in her mouth just off camera, and we hear someone say that she took her own life. We then see blood on her limp, dangling hand; We see some blood on an ax after a man hits another man in the chest with it; While Annie is being chased in some rooms, she accidentally finds a dead man in a freezer with his eyes wide open and blood on his shirt from the ax wound; We see some blood on Charlie’s arm after a struggle with Annie; Charlie has an abrasion on his face; Scott has some blood on his face; Scott has more blood on his face after fighting with Charlie; Blood sprays when a man hits another man in the head with a baseball bat. We see blood all over his face and coming from his mouth.
Violence: We see dead deer with a bloody hole on its neck briefly. Peck shoots the deer twice, scaring Scott & Annie; We see Charlie carrying the deer to his shed. He then cuts it open as it hangs upside down (We don’t see the gore); Charlie smashes a bottle on a man’s head and we briefly see some blood before we realize it’s something he’s imagining and hasn’t actually done; In a flashback, a woman puts a shotgun in her mouth just off camera, and we hear someone say that she took her own life. We then see blood on her limp, dangling hand; A car hits Scott off the road while he’s jogging. He then wakes up in a hospital bed; We see a nature show of a lion attacking a zebra; A man chases another man with an ax into the woods. He suddenly hits him in the chest with the ax. The victim falls to the ground and Charlie pushes him over; While Annie is being chased in some rooms, she accidentally finds a dead man in a freezer with his eyes wide open and blood on his shirt from the ax wound; Charlie grabs Annie from behind and they struggle. She grabs a knife and swings it at him. He tries to kiss her neck and he throws her into the fridge, knocking her out; We see a flashback of a man putting a gun to his wife’s throat and pulling the trigger (but we don’t see the impact or results); While she’s unconscious, Charlie pulls Annie’s shirt up with his teeth (it falls back down, and nothing explicit is seen) and licks up her clothed shirt and her cleavage and neck. She wakes up and they struggle. He holds a knife on her and stuffs her mouth with a rag when Scott enters the house and calls for her. He then ties her up and jumps Scott. They struggle as Charlie punches Scott repeatedly and throws him over the upstairs railing, sending him crashing to the floor below; Charlie uses a knife to cut through a door and then breaks through. Annie breaks a glass on his head and he holds her down on a bed. Scott attacks him and the two punch each other repeatedly. Scott has more blood on his face; Annie stabs Charlie in the back with a knife. He stumbles away and gets a gun. He shoots at them repeatedly and then shoots down a chandelier so it gets dark; A man hits another man with a baseball bat to the head. They fall over, still alive; A man shoots a man who is laying wounded on the floor.