THE INTRUDER

For a more in-depth discussion, check out my new podcast Movie Talkers, where my friend Grant and I discuss the new film we just watched! Available on Soundcloud and YouTube.

Predictability is an element that a lot of people like to bring up when focusing on the negative aspects of a film. While it’s certainly more exciting to not know what’s going to happen, a predictable narrative can be elevated by everything behind it, such as quality performances and direction. Films are all about experiencing a story and if the experience makes up for some narrative shortcomings, I look at it as an overall success. Some filmmakers are just completely inept, unfortunately. 

The Intruder follows married couple Scott (Michael Ealy) and Annie Howard (Meagan Goode) who are looking for a new home. They seem to find the perfect one out in the rural Napa Valley, which is being sold by Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid). The house is gorgeous and Charlie seems nice enough, so they quickly jump into buying it. Charlie seems to be a little homesick, as he sticks around to mow the lawn, offer to help around the house, and other tasks as if he still owns the place. Due to Charlie’s odd nature, mysterious past, and seemingly increasing obsession with Annie, the couple begin growing suspicious of his true nature. 

This is all as predictable as it gets. I’ve seen the trailer, so I knew where the premise was going to go, but it’s so obvious from the beginning what’s going to happen. We have a couple with some marital issues who buy a house from a guy who subsequently terrorizes them, so it hits all the beats of Dennis Quaid not only ruining them, but their relationship. I liked the general idea, especially with the overbearing theme of how a house can truly become a “home”, and the conflict between the owners. It would have made for a tense little thriller if it wasn’t so damn repetitive. I’ve never seen a more rinse and repeat movie in my entire life. Scott and/or Annie will be at home, Dennis Quaid will creepily pop up in the background (usually accompanied by a jump scare noise), Scott argues with Dennis Quaid to leave, and Annie defending Dennis Quaid. It happened so often that it went from somewhat suspenseful, to hilarious, and then to just plain annoying. Since you’re just waiting for the obvious climax, there’s really not much to anything here. 

Director Deon Taylor sure doesn’t help things much, with his complete lack of any ability to maintain anything resembling the word “tone”. Never heard of him? Well, just go his IMDb biography that’s totally not written by him. He’s like a more competent, higher budgeted Tommy Wiseau, and The Intruder has every deluded, egotistical director trait you can think of. Awkward, unnatural dialogue. Stupid, illogical characters. Plotlines introduced to add dramatic stakes, but never resolved. Musical choices that couldn’t do a worse job at conveying the tone the director wants to. Of course, there’s much, much more, but I can go on and on. A lot of it feels like a student film with a decent budget, with some nice shot composition, but all done for the effect of “this framing will look cool.” The audio is especially terrible, with canned sound effects abound and some embarrassing ADR mixing. There are a few scenes of Scott and Annie driving and we get a birds-eye view of the car and a voiceover of them conversing. There’s absolutely no effort to mix the audio and make it sound like they’re actually talking inside a car or anything like that. Just like they took the voiceover track, threw it under the video, and called it a day.

The inept filmmaking was mostly annoying, but as any hilariously bad movie goes, there are reasons why they’re so hilarious, and this film has a single one: Dennis Quaid. He is absolutely delightful as the deranged and psychopathic Charlie and he makes the entire experience somewhat bearable. There wasn’t a scene with him where I wasn’t just giggling away at his goofy facial expressions and awkward line delivery. He really lets himself go in the last half-hour, hamming it up to the stars. Fitting, since his face seems to be made of ham, as shown in the scene where Annie pulls his face while trying to push him off her. You get him crashing his head through doors, roaring, and unnaturally contorting his face to any creepy smile he could muster. The funniest thing of all is that he’s obviously weird and creepy from the get-go, but Annie is just oblivious to it all, rubbing it off as him just being “awkward and nice.” All of the characters are just unbelievably stupid, such as never once calling the police until the last act, or letting each other stay home alone when Quaid is clearly a crazy person. But hey, if it gives us some more Quaid goodness, who am I to complain? 

The Intruder is one of those bad movies that I would usually forget by the next morning (remember Hellboy? I hardly do.), but Quaid quaiding it up made it one of the most hilarious, bad moviegoing experiences I’ve ever had. This one really tickled my funny bone, which I don’t think Deon Taylor intended, but hey, some reaction is better than no reaction, right? Let’s hope for more of these inept films keep getting churned out, because with this and Replicas, 2019 is shaping up to be a year of some modern classic trashterpieces. 

3.5/10

Movie Talker Tirade

It’s been a while since one of these, but it’s been a while since I’ve had such an awful movie talker experience, so away we go!

My friend Grant and I saw this during a matinee showing, with only about a dozen people in the whole theater. We sat in the same row as a middle-aged married couple, who were about eight seats away from us. We saw this at one of those dine-in theaters and the first sign of trouble was this couple using their cell phone flashlights to split their food with each other. I accepted this, as it was during the previews, but once the movie started, they began using their phone screen instead. Again, I begrudgingly let it go and they ended up stopping.

A few minutes go by and I start hearing chatting and whispering from that very couple. At these theaters, you can write down on an order card to let management know if anybody is being disruptive, which I did. This normally results in a server coming in and alerting management of the issue, but I grew impatient and got up to ask them to stop talking myself. I walked up, looked down, and politely asked, “Excuse me. Can you please stop talking?” The wife just looked at me and rolled her eyes all the way down to her feet, not saying a word. “Thank you,” I said, as I walked back to my seat.

Of course, right after I ask them to stop talking, a manager comes and takes my card, then watches them to see if they’re talking. They don’t make a peep and he leaves. About 5 minutes pass and the couple begins moving their food, drinks, and belongings all the way down to the end of the row, dropping stuff and making a ruckus along the way. Why do they do this? So they can resume their disruptive whispering. Hearing them speak again, I looked over and made eye contact with the husband. He apparently took this as a huge sign of disrespect, got on his feet, and stomped over my direction. 

“I don’t like you looking at me like that! That’s very disrespectful!” 

“Well, I heard you two talking again after I asked you not to, so that’s why I looked over,” I replied. 

“I can talk wherever the fuck I want! You just sit down and eat your fuckin’ food!” 

“Okay, well I’ll just complain again on an order card, if you keep talking.”

“Go ahead and do that then!” 

He stomps back to his seat and Grant leans over to ask, “Do you just want to talk to a manager?”

I nodded and got up to leave, and what does this guy do? He decides to follow me out of the theater. “Oh, here we go,” I thought. Luckily a manager was right outside in the hallway and I said, “Excuse me. He and his wife have been talking and then he got in my face-” 

“Damn right I got in your face!” the man yells as he gets in my face again. 

“Whoa, whoa. I’m just gonna break this up right now,” the manager says as he steps between us. “I walked in there after getting a complaint and everybody was behaved. What’s going on?” 

I recounted, “I wrote the complaint and I admit that I got impatient with nobody grabbing the card yet, so I went and asked to them to stop talking myself. I should have waited for you guys, so sorry about that. Then they decided to move down further so they could just keep whispering down there.” 

“Yeah! Whispering!” the stupid man exclaimed. 

“Whispering is still talking,” I replied. 

The manager defused the situation and had us go back into the theater, but not before giving me free movie passes and comping the meal for Grant and I. So, while the experience with the movie talkers was aggravating, it resulted in a free movie and free food, so hey, not too shabby. Thankfully the movie wasn’t good. 

So, yeah, if any movie talkers are reading this, please just stop talking during the movie. Nobody wants to hear it. And if somebody asks you to stop talking, don’t yell and make a scene, because that’s what children do. Do you want to still be a child? 

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