One of my favorite genres of all time is the _____ from Hell genre most prolific in the ‘90s with The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Single White Female, Unlawful Entry, etc. I’m not saying The Intruder is as good as those classics, but it knows what it is and I’m grateful it exists.
Scott (Michael Ealy) and Annie (Meagan Good) buy a three million dollar home from Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid). Charlie is part doddering old man but mostly creepy obsessive guy who can’t let go.
It’s no secret that Charlie is the Homeowner from Hell. He’s introduced maniacally shooting a deer, and he keeps showing up to help out. It’s one thing to have trouble letting go of the memories, but these are complete strangers upon whom you’re intruding.
“We don’t know him” is the correct response Scott has. I think it’s magnanimous of him to tell Charlie to call or text first if he wants to stop by. He would also be right to say, “Enough. You have to stop coming over.”
Quaid is magnificent. There’s no part of Charlie that’s subtle. The film holds on Charlie seething over interior decorating changes Scott and Annie have made, and that’s just a difference in taste!
I guess the one part that’s missing from a hypothetical ‘90s version of The Intruder is there’s no section of the movie where Charlie seems like an angel who’s too good to be true. There’s no part where Charlie and Annie appreciate his help and he seems harmless.
Therefore there’s no turn where the perfect nanny, roommate, cop, etc. shows their true colors. Everyone sees something is wrong with Charlie. The only one sympathetic is Annie because she just feels sorry for him, but that’s more a reflection on her compassionate character. The movie knows he’s evil.
So you get to see Quaid freak out. You get to see him sneering at their lovemaking. You get to see him practicing his friendly smile and checking his own teeth in the mirror. That’s all bad enough and we’re not even through act two!
It’s also PG-13. In the ‘90s, The Intruder would’ve been rated R and really gone there, but still they find aggressive ways for Quaid to creep without showing nudity or using the F word.
I strongly encourage Hollywood to start making these ______ from Hell movies again. It’s a high concept that, when done right, is satisfying to audiences and makes them shout back at the screen. Feel free to cast Quaid in them too.
The Intruder intrudes into theaters Friday, May 3.