In Movie Land there floats a sub-genre of films that I call the urban suspense film. We typically will have a normal couple who for some reason become the target of a psychopath, a man who starts out as just another mildly nasty guy or at least an odd duck. The tension builds and builds as the ordinary couple becomes more and more aware that they’re dealing not with an odd duck, but with a potentially murderous mad creature. In good hands this theme will scare the prunes out of us, leave us shaking and afraid.
The makers of “The Intruder” include a set of seasoned if not equally famous professionals.
Deon Taylor directs the film. He has 17 credits on TV or the big screen. Writer David Loughery has a career going all the way back to 1981. He penned such disparate projects as the action flick “Passenger 57” with Wesley Snipes and the massive 1989 issue, “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.” He also wrote the urban suspense film “Lakeview Terrace,” very similar in theme to “The Intruder” with Samuel L. Jackson as the malevolent whack job.
The cast also has solid and skilled players.
Dennis Quaid, now 65 and very craggy, plays the bad guy with relish. Quaid has nearly 100 acting roles on his sheet. We know Meagan Good and Michael Ealy mostly from their many roles on TV. These actors have talent and experience.
Ealy and Good believably play a very successful couple in San Francisco. So successful that they can buy a $3 million property in Napa, Calif. near San Fransisco. They have good educations, they have type A good looks and are very sharp at what they do. But they cannot match their way crazy opponent on his home turf.
The movie might have worked so well to be included at the top of the sub genre, but alas, no.
David Loughery, the writer, pulled the string a bit too early. We discover that the bad guy really is a bad guy and not merely odd just a bit too early. Another 15 minutes of screen time building up the tension would have made for a better, scarier movie.
This urban thriller runs for one hour and 42 minutes. Made with a tiny by Hollywood standards budget of $8 million, it will almost certainly turn a profit. Make what you will with that. The PG-13 suspense flick rates only a below average two saw blades.
Dennis Quaid made a very similar film in 2003 called “Cold Creek Manor.” In that one he played the husband in the terrorized ordinary couple.
Much better films in this genre include “Cape Fear” and “Dead Calm” with Sam Neill and Nicole Kidman, “The Hitcher” with Rutger Hauer as the psychopath and one that made my blood run cold, “Pacific Heights” starring Melanie Griffith and as the bad guy, Michael Keaton.