High fantasy in film and TV is having a moment. Take the premise of the brutal home invasion thriller “The Intruder.” A creative director at a San Francisco advertising agency and a journalist who writes about social justice issues for women’s magazines have a cool $3 million-plus to drop on a palatial dream home in Napa Valley. It’s a stretch to suspend your disbelief that far, but buying the property does have a catch: The former owner just can’t seem to say goodbye. Swap the H in HGTV for “horror” and you’ve got “The Intruder.”
Directed by Deon Taylor with a cheeky sense of fun and deep knowledge of the genre, “The Intruder” is the kind of schlocky yet satisfying genre filmmaking that makes you jump and laugh at the same time. Starring Michael Ealy and Meagan Good as Scott and Annie, a couple of naive city mice making a go of country living, the film is a blend of sexy and scary with a nifty social metaphor to boot. Think of it like a reverse “Get Out,” where a young black couple battles the last gasp of white patriarchy that won’t go quietly into that good night. When Charlie (Dennis Quaid) bellows “get out of my house!” after his campaign of cajoling and creeping goes belly up, one can’t help but think of the rage expressed by the many who fear social and cultural change.
Like any good thriller, at least one character must possess almost a complete lack of self-preservation instincts. In “The Intruder,” that person is Annie, a character so open, compassionate and polite to Charlie you have to wonder if the woman has that no-fear gene. As baffling as she is, home invasion thrillers aren’t about realistic human behavior, and Annie’s indulging of Charlie is the fulcrum of the tale. It’s what keeps the story moving, and what keeps the audience screaming “don’t go in there!” from their seats.