“Traffik” director Deon Taylor’s “The Intruder” (* OUT OF ****) qualifies as a potboiler.  Webster’s defines a potboiler as “a usually inferior work (as of art or literature) produced chiefly for profit.”  Indeed, this dreadful B-movie about the trials and tribulations of homeowners serves up little more than an inventory of clichés.  The thrills and chills in this psychological thriller are so scarce that this mediocre PG-13 rated yarn never yields any palatable, white-knuckled suspense.

Its single-digit body count marks it as lukewarm from fade-in to fade out.  Nevertheless, this Screen Gems’ release coined $10 million during its first weekend in release on an $8-million budget!  Statistically, “The Intruder” won’t shatter any box 0ffice records like Marvel’s “Avengers’ Endgame,” but director Deon Taylor and “Obsessed” scenarist David Loughery have doubled their haul with this monotonous, grade-Z melodrama.  Actually, low-budget horror movies rank consistently as some of the most profitable Hollywood films.

Creepy old white guy Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid of “Vantage Point”) sells his beloved manor in scenic Napa Valley, California, to a young, affluent, upscale, African-American couple, Scott (Michael Ealy of “Think Like A Man”) and Annie Russell (Meagan Good of “Shazam!”), for about $3-million.  Every time the Russells turn around, however, they find Charlie loitering on the premises.  After he sold the house, Charlie lies to them that he will probably drive to Florida, where his daughter lives, but he just cannot find it in his heart to abandon the house that has meant far more to him than we’ll ever know.

Similarly, Dennis Quaid co-starred with Sharon Stone in director Mike Figgis’ sinister house thriller “Cold Creek Manor” (2003).  Quaid and Stone played homeowners who left behind the chaos of New York City to take their son and daughter into the woods so they could get away from all the hustle and bustle.  They bought a bank-foreclosed mansion, which had once belonged to an ex-con who has just been released from jail and appeals to them for a job.  Since they are renovating the house, the ex-con persuades them to hire him because he knows more about the place than anybody. Comparatively, “Coal Creek Manor” winds up being ten times more exciting and entertaining than “The Intruder.”

Advertising executive Scott and his free-lance journalist wife Annie sell their boisterous San Francisco penthouse and buy a quiet home in the country so they can start a family.  Meanwhile, personal and professional misfortunes have strained Charlie so drastically he has no alternative but to sell his dream house.   Christened Foxglove and built in 1905, this charming, ivy-covered villa lies nestled in the heart of  America’s famous wine vineyards.

In “The Intruder”, Scott and Annie fall in love with Charlie’s sprawling mansion, and they want it.  Reluctantly, Charlie sells it for a little over $3 million.  Just when they think they have seen the last of him, friendly old Charlie behaves like a hopeless nuisance.  For example, he mows the yard for them, but Annie doesn’t find him as insufferable as Scott does.  The first time they meet the widowed homeowner, Charlie kills a deer with a high-powered rifle.  Naturally, this horrified them, but they accept Charlie’s explanation that deer were destroying vegetation on the estate.  Nevertheless, Scott is forever traumatized by the shooting.

We learn he abhors guns because his brother died from a gunshot wound.  Predictably, he has a meltdown when Charlie visits them armed with a rifle.  Initially, the couple treats Charlie like a relative who has worn out his welcome.  Indeed, everything Charlie has ever known is wrapped up in this remote mansion and its many rooms.  Eventually, however, certain things don’t add up.

The first 45 minutes of “The Intruder” introduces us to Scott and Annie and then Charlie, and we learn Charlie regards the house and its rustic acreage as hallowed ground.  For example, Scott’s colleague from work, Mike Renfro (Joseph Sikora of “Jack Reacher”), drops a cigarette butt on the property, then discovers later somebody has burned a hole in the leather upholstery of his sports car.  The relationship between Charlie and Mike reflects the dark, tormented side of Charlie.

Unfortunately, Taylor and Loughery turn Charlie into an instant B-movie villain without allowing his villainy to evolve believably, so we know a clash is inevitable between Charlie and the Russells.  Earlier, some questions arise about other disturbances in the woods, which were unfairly attributed to Charlie.  Kids prowl the forest around the palatial house, making out and getting drunk on it.

Nevertheless, Scott has doubts about, but not enough to make the first strike.  Scott sees through Charlie’s ingratiating manner much faster than Annie, but she gives him the benefit of the doubt. It is exasperating that Annie isn’t as intuitive about Charlie as Scott.  The filmmakers turn Charlie into a leering psycho and the ultimate confrontation is drawn out while Annie fears that Scott is relapsing into marital infidelity.  Before they were wed, Scott cheated on her, and an incident occurs with a client that revives Annie’s dreadful memories.  Similarly, the longer they reside in Foxglove, the more they learn about the enigmatic Charlie and his notoriety.

“The Intruder” amounts to a shallow carbon-copy of countless stalker sagas.  Scott should have obtained a restraining order to Charlie off the premises, but Scott finds himself entangled in a web of his own deceit.  When he is flirting with a woman after hours at a bar, Scott dispatches best friend Mike to keep tabs on Annie.  Mike is no match for Charlie, and only then does the image of Charlie as a maniac emerges at its most malignant.

Mind you, an accomplished actor like Dennis Quaid has no problem stealing the picture. Initially, he makes Charlie seem harmless until he mutates into a hopeless homicidal maniac.  Sadly, both Michael Ealy and Meagan Good languish in woefully under-written roles that cast them as completely clueless. By this time, “The Intruder” has sacrificed any semblance of subtlety.  Altogether, “The Intruder” breaks no new ground. For more great movie reviews click here: https://theplanetweekly.com/category/entertainment/

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