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With: Meagan Good, Dennis Quaid, Michael Ealy, Joseph Sikora, Alvina August
Written by: David Loughery
Directed by: Deon Taylor
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, terror, some sexuality, language and thematic elements
Running Time: 102
Date: 05/03/2019

The Intruder (2019)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

House Trap

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Not to be confused with either Roger Corman's 1962 masterpiece or Claire Denis's 2004 masterpiece of the same name, the 2019 The Intruder starts off stretching the boundaries of belief by showing a sports car zooming around San Francisco streets at top speeds, without potholes, construction, double-parked Ubers/Lyfts, or soul-sucking traffic impeding its way.

The main characters are a wealthy couple. Scott Russell (Michael Ealy) is a promotor and advertiser that has just "closed the deal" and is now "#1 at the company," while his wife Annie (Meagan Good) writes articles for women's magazines.

Though Scott attends some meetings, we never see either of them actually working, but they are able to afford a $3-million-plus house in Napa.

The previous owner is Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid). He claims that the house has "good bones," and he does too. He's no spring chicken, a long way from 1987's Innerspace (also set in The City) but still sports rippling muscles, great hair, and a wicked grin.

Charlie's family has owned the house for generations. He loves everything about it, and is highly skilled at all manner of home maintenance.

He's also much more polite than Scott's best friend Mike (Joseph Sikora) who pees in the fountain behind the house and flicks his cigarette butt in the grass. If Mike were to, say, become someone's target, it's unlikely anyone would mind much.

Yes, Charlie is a psychopath. He's the kind of psychopath that always seems to be a jump ahead of the good guys, to the point of being aware of their precise location at any given time.

And if Quaid plays "friendly Charlie" at a "10" during the movie's first two-thirds, then he dashes all the way to "negative 10" to play "crazy Charlie" in the last third, even stooping to grunting and making animal sounds. There's nothing in-between, no concept of Charlie as a human being.

This kind of "psychopathic stalker" movie was very prevalent in the early 1990s — and seems to be coming back, looking at this year's Greta — and it's at least notable that this is one of the few in which the victims are affluent African-Americans.

The heroes of Jordan Peele's Us were also affluent African-Americans, also with white friends, but Peele's movie had specific reasons for these things. The Intruder has simply, even cynically, shoehorned characters into interchangeable roles.

Frankly, it's difficult to care much about the Russells, since the screenplay by David Loughery (whose credits go all the way back to, no kidding, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) has, like Charlie, given them no humanity.

Scott and Annie can't seem to speak openly. They only seem to converse in plot-advancement. They fight, or make up, agree or disagree, only depending on where the plot needs them to be.

In one scene, Scott gets up to go running one morning, and he is slammed off the road by a truck, driven by — we assume — Charlie. Whether Charlie did it or not is less puzzling than why Scott got up to go running in the first place, when he has never done it before, never mentioned it, and in fact is supposed to be working all the time.

In any case, this sets up a plot device that keeps Scott in the hospital for an entire 24 hours, even though he seems unharmed ("we have to wait for the labs," says a convincing doctor), so that Charlie can wreak his final havoc.

The Intruder was directed by Deon Taylor and is thankfully less offensive than his previous movie, last year's message-laden exploitation film Traffik.

This one is, instead, merely ridiculous and laughable. It's all mechanical, just movements to get characters in certain places at certain times. Nothing anyone does comes from a place of belief or honesty or passion.

The only good thing here is Meagan Good, who was last seen in Shazam! as the large-size superhero version of little Darla, bumping into Santa Claus and telling him with a blush of excitement that she has been really good this year.

She has a genuine kindness. When she receives Charlie's creepy advances, she sees the other side of things, tries to help him out of his loneliness. She has been a delight throughout her varied career, adorable, tough, and funny, and ought to be a huge star. The Intruder doesn't deserve her.

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