The end of the school year always causes The Doctor to wistfully recall my own school days, a time whensummer vacations were a tangible reality that involved sunscreen application, the pungent aroma of newly chopped grass, and the sight of bikini-clad young ladies lounging in the shade on shadowy late afternoons during a tranquil July… scenes from memory which are eventually replaced by the stern, present-day reminder that the coming of summer vacation now means that I only have a few more weeks before my afternoon movie matinees are taken over by hordes of suburban teens documenting their daily minutiae on social media. In other words, it was time to enjoy one last PG-13 show at 5:00 pm on a Tuesday by myself. With my minis of Bombay gin in tow – hiding them on my person also reminiscent of youthful misadventures long gone by – I hit the local cinema to check out Dennis Quaid in The Intruder.
Scott Russell (Michael Ealy) and his wife Annie (the ever so lovely Meagan Good) are a hip, well-to-do, thirtyish couple living in San Francisco. Scott has just closed a big deal at his downtown ad agency and the Russells are rolling in good times and dollars, so they drive out to the Napa wine country to look at a rustic estate that has recently been placed on the market. The current owner of the home is Charlie Peck, played by one Dennis Quaid. The widowed Charlie is, well, a touch off-kilter, evidenced by his blasting away a deer with one of his many rifles directly in front of the would-be homebuyers. OK… as far as red flags go, that one might litearlly be on fire, until Charlie somewhat logically informs them of the necessity of keeping rampant deer from feeding on the grass. Scott is immediatelty wary, but in Annie’s eyes, Charlie seems like a harmless, lonely man who is perhaps conflicted over selling his ancestral home but nevertheless excited about the prospect of moving to Florida to live with his adult daughter and her family… or so he says. Charlie’s asking price is $3.5 million, which in reality would be an innacurately low assessment given the beauty of the sprawling property and its wine valley locale. Scott is a tad reluctant to take the dive being that he is a yuppie city boy but, as Charlie reminds him, if the missus is happy then so is everybody else. The Russells quickly close on the house and move in as Charlie loads his final few belongings into his SUV and appears to move on down the road…
But of course Charlie never really goes away, because then we wouldn’t have a movie to scrutinize. Scott has been apprehensive of Charlie from the start, but Annie isn’t inclined to agree, even after she comes home one afternoon weeks after moving in to find Charlie mowing the yard astride his riding mower. Sure, it’s a bit presumptuous of an act and certainly unnecessary, but is it really a cause for concern?
That Scott himself is too busy to mow his own yard is emblematic of the character. Scott is a metrosexual pussy – sorry, but there is no other way to say it – a lean, bespectaled, urban denizen clad in designer suits who loves his job and prefers to spend long hours engaged in the wheelings and dealings of the highrise glass towers of San Francisco. Admittedly I dont know much about Ealy, but he does a good job in the part as I imagine it was conceived, although there is no reason to whip a wide-framed pair of glasses on him. We get the point. Charlie exists on the other end of the spectrum, a somewhat aging but still rugged and athletic Man’s Man. Might not Annie, spending the day alone in her new home in Napa while her husband is at work, enjoy Charlie’s company a little more than she otherwise should?
Scott grows increasingly agitated at Charlie’s appearances and eventually tells him so, much to Annie’s chagrin. She thinks her husband is overreacting and possibly even threatened by Charlie, especially given the development that Scott is less than a virtuous angel himself. The game, however, is long since afoot.
There isn’t much else to say without giving away significant details, but anyone who has read this far – or has viewed a trailer – can fairly guess where the film’s narrative is headed. The Intruder is one of those thrillers that combines elements of “home invasion horror” with shades of Fatal Attraction. There is nothing really new with those tropes, but the film mostly stays intense and the mood created by the house and its grounds makes for a good atmosphere. All of that being said, however, whether or not you like The Intruder depends on whether or not you are interested in watching an aging, veteran actor like Quaid give it his all in this role. Quaid as Charlie is capable of wearing different faces and in Quaid’s hands the craziness acts as a crescendo, starting slowly but building in force. The film can be a bit uneven, and there are a couple of examples of what TNCC chairman Matt Cade would correctly refer to as lazy writing/storytelling, but none of that really fails to kill your attention because it serves as a sort of baiting for the audience while we wait for more of Charlie. As a guy who has appreciated Quaid and his range as an actor going back to the 80’s, the price of admission was definitely worth it for me. And if I wasn’t going to think twice about buying a house from him beforehand, I damn sure would now. As always, dear friends, The Doctor wishes you all a clean bill of health.