“The Intruder” starts off stretching the boundaries of belief by showing a sports car zooming at top speed around San Francisco streets that don’t have potholes, construction, double-parked Ubers/Lyfts or soul-sucking traffic.
The main characters are a wealthy couple. Scott Russell (Michael Ealy) is a promoter and advertiser who just “closed the deal,” and is “No. 1 at the company,” while his wife Annie (Meagan Good) writes articles for women’s magazines.
We never see either of them actually working, but they afford a $3 million-plus house in Napa. The previous owner is Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid), who claims 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 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.
Yes, Charlie is a psychopath, the kind that’s always a jump ahead of the good guys to the point of being aware of their precise location at any given time.
Quaid plays “friendly Charlie” at a 10 during the movie’s first two-thirds, then dashes to negative 10 to play “crazy Charlie” in the last third, even stooping to grunting and making animal sounds. There’s nothing in between.
This “psychopathic stalker” type of movie, prevalent in the early 1990s, seems to be coming back (“Greta” this year); it’s notable that this is one of the few in which the victims are affluent African-Americans.
(The heroes of Jordan Peele’s “Us” also were affluent African-Americans, also with white friends, but Peele’s movie had specific reasons for that case. “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 back to, no kidding, “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier”) has given them no humanity.
Scott and Annie don’t speak openly; they 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 goes running one morning and he is slammed off the road by a truck, driven by — we assume — Charlie. Whether or not Charlie did it is less puzzling than why Scott got up to go running in the first place, when he has never done it before and is supposed to be working all the time.
This sets up a plot device that keeps Scott in the hospital for 24 hours, even though he seems unharmed, so Charlie can wreak his final havoc.
“The Intruder,” directed by Deon Taylor, is thankfully less offensive than his previous movie, 2018’s message-laden exploitation film “Traffik.”
Merely ridiculous and laughable, “The Intruder” is all mechanical. Nothing anyone does comes from a place of belief or honesty or passion.
The only good thing is Meagan Good (seen in this year’s “Shazam!” as the large superhero version of little Darla, bumping into Santa Claus, excitedly telling him 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. A delight throughout her varied career, she’s adorable, tough and funny, and ought to be a huge star. “The Intruder” doesn’t deserve her.
One and a half stars
Starring: Meagan Good, Dennis Quaid, Michael Ealy, Joseph Sikora
Written by: David Loughery
Directed by: Deon Taylor
Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes