In the grand tradition of psychological thrillers from yesteryear (especially the 1990s)—you know, the ones where we watch as some psychotic manipulator takes advantage of well-meaning folks who are afraid of confrontation—comes Deon Taylor’s The Intruder, an endlessly entertaining and enthralling cautionary tale about the dangers of home ownership (or more specifically in this instance, trusting anyone who is willing to come and cut your acres-long lawn for free).
The Intruder is centered around Scott and Annie Russell (played by Michael Ealy and Meagan Good), a young and successful couple who are tired of the hustle and bustle of living in downtown San Francisco and decide that they’re in need of a change of scenery. They find the home of their dreams out in Napa Valley, as widower Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid) has decided to sell his family estate, Foxglove, and start a new life out in Florida. The Russells eagerly make an offer on the house, and as they begin to settle in to their new life away from it all, it turns out ol’ Charlie isn’t exactly ready to give up his family home after all. And that’s when the fun begins, and Charlie starts to exhibit his true (and obsessive) colors to the dismay of both Scott and Annie.
While screenwriter David Loughery’s script for The Intruder might not exactly be the most imaginative or unique, as someone who grew up loving every ridiculously entertaining thriller to come out during the aforementioned ’90s—Unlawful Entry, Never Talk to Strangers, Pacific Heights, Bad Influence, Single White Female, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, and on and on—the latest from Taylor really hit all my proverbial buttons the right way. Sure, you have characters here being way too trusting and making some horrible, horrible decisions, but that’s what these type of movies involve, and I was perfectly okay with that because it’s part of the formula (besides, how many horror movies have characters making bad choices?). Without a doubt, Loughery’s script knows exactly what kind of movie The Intruder is, and successfully leans into those popular thriller tropes we all know so well by this point, and just finds a way to make it into a super fun and often thrilling experience.
It also helps that The Intruder features a trio of strong performances that elevates the material as well. Both Ealy and Good are compelling and engaging here, but it is Quaid who steals the proverbial show with his completely banana pants performance that is just obscenely fun to watch. Quaid, who has been everyone’s mom’s favorite actor for as long as I can remember (which I mean as a compliment), just wildly swings for the fences here with his portrayal of Charlie, a man who is far more dangerous than he seems, and it just feels like the veteran actor is having the time of his life in The Intruder.
Honestly, the price of admission is worth it alone just to see Quaid go to town here, and I think his performance in The Intruder might go down as one of my very favorite things I’ve seen in a movie this year. At certain points in the film, Taylor transforms Charlie into his very own version of Jason Voorhees, where you just never know where Quaid will pop up next, and I honestly cackled multiple times whenever his kooky and creepy ass character was lurking about.
It may not be exactly “high art” to some, but for me, The Intruder was an absolute blast, and I enjoyed seeing Quaid really pull out all the stops with his completely wackadoo character of Charlie. Taylor’s passion for filmmaking is evident throughout the movie as well—as many cinema fans will undoubtedly recognize several of his directorial hat tips that he works into several key scenes—and for someone who fully embraces a solid thriller that just wants to take its viewers on an entertaining ride, The Intruder achieves just that and more.
Movie Score: 3.5/5