“This room hasn’t been updated in 20 years,” Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid) tells a pair of prospective buyers, gesturing to the faded floral wallpaper in his otherwise-charming master suite. Though he might as well be talking about the script for The Intruder — a hammy home-invasion thriller steeped in the storied mothballs of a thousand Lifetime melodramas about dark secrets, ax-wielding sociopaths, and premium real estate.
If there’s anything aside from the presence of a few late-model iPhones that drags the movie into 2019, it’s that the unwitting couple, Annie and Scott (Meagan Good and Being Mary Jane’s Michael Ealy), are young black professionals — cool enough to have their own San Francisco loft, but determined to live a quieter life amidst the sun-dappled grapevines and artisanal ice-cream shops of California wine country.
They’re lovely, if appallingly clueless, and the house they’re smitten with is hard to resist; an ivy-covered cottage straight out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. But the seller’s mental state seems, at the least, precarious: He keeps showing up uninvited to mow the lawn or hang the Christmas lights; he seems to have intensely strong feelings about tapestries; when provoked, his neck veins throb like enraged caterpillars.
The screenplay, by David Loughery (Obsessed, Passenger 57), hits every bingo in the genre, from The Fatally Oblivious Best Friend (Joseph Sikora) to the Final Confrontation Fake Out (Rasputin, surely, took less time to die). The whole thing would be more fun, you start to feel, if Intruder just committed fully to the schlocky midnight-movie glory of it all; let Quaid’s lawn-mowing wingnut swing that ax not just for soft vulnerable body parts, but the stars. C