When casting was announced two years ago for the “The Intruder,” the working title was “Motivated Seller.” The thriller stars Michael Ealy and Meagan Good as a young couple who move into their dream home in Napa Valley wine country after chancing upon a seller: the mysteriously eager — and mysteriously clingy — retiree and widower played by Dennis Quaid. But that real estate term of art, which hints, ever so subtly, that there might be something fishy about the former owner’s intensity, was eventually dropped.
The producers probably didn’t want to spoil the movie.
Fat chance, when it’s already gone bad. There is a faintly greenish fuzz of bread mold at the edges of every frame of this stale exercise in psychological horror (subgroup: homeowner hell).
It all starts with the cheesy foreshadowing of dread: “Something tells me Domino’s won’t deliver,” says Ealy’s Scott, upon encountering the remote property, where they meet the gun-toting owner. (He says it’s for deer, and proves it by shooting one right then and there.) Quickly, Scott has shelled out $3.5 million for the estate called Foxglove. (Yes, Foxglove is a poisonous plant, and it grows wild in these woods, which are also frequented by uninvited teenage partyers.) Soon enough, Scott is leaving his wife alone there while he goes off to work in downtown San Francisco.
Did I say alone?
There’s someone else inside the house. Did you miss the title? That someone is no rambunctious adolescent, but the identity of the intruder will surprise absolutely no one, not even your pop-culture-illiterate cousin who lives in a shack in the mountains and has never seen a movie. The only thrills, if that’s the right word (and it’s not) are jump scares that, for the most part, don’t work and don’t try very hard. The only mystery is how this movie got made, regardless of what you call it.
Some viewers might find that, like a $3 bottle of wine, there’s a certain so-bad-it’s-good pleasure to how things unfold here: predictably, violently and histrionically, and leaving you with a bad hangover. But who am I to stand in your way? Quaid, who at one point seems to be channeling a wild dog, also appears to be enjoying himself. At the very least, you won’t be the only one in the theater having a good time.
PG-13. At area theaters. Contains violence, terror, some sexuality, strong language and mature thematic elements. 102 minutes.