Movie Review: Never buy a house from this Joker, “The Intruder”

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Two truths quickly emerge from “The Intruder,” a thriller about buying a house from the wrong guy.

First, director Deon Taylor (“Traffik”) and editor Melissa Kent should be first chair at the symphony orchestra of their choosing. They play the audience like a fiddle, hurling close-ups, jarringly loud sound effects and scare-by-DEAFENING music at us when they want us to jump.

The finale is a beautifully shot, in-your-face/cage-fight-to-the-death, visceral and heart-pumping.

And the second truth is that Hollywood REALLY missed the boat by not giving Dennis Quaid a shot at playing The Joker. He’s had the demonic grin all along. He just had to apply it to the right demon.

Put those two together and you have the makings of an entirely too manipulative, too obvious couple-in-jeopardy thriller, and a fun “bad” movie.

There is no doubt that his Charlie Peck is “not right” when young couple Anna (Meagan Good) and Scott (Micheal Ealy) get him to show his gorgeous, remote 1905 Napa Valley villa tucked into verdant acreage. They’re ready to leave their San Francisco penthouse for the country, and all they need is $3 million+ to buy the house that Anna falls in love with on first sight.

Scott? He was as shocked as we are that they meet Charlie (Quaid), the Master of Foxglove — beware of houses with names — as he shoots a deer, right in front of them.

“POW!”

Charlie, the “Bambi killer,” has an off-putting laugh, a grin that can change into a scowl in a flash and an uneasy vibe about him. Scott sees all the guns, catches a hint of racial tactlessness, notices the way the man dotes on his wife and identifies a threat.

Here’s a manly man of the country who loves this house, his guns, doing stuff with his hands and the woods. Scott’s in advertising. Yeah, he’s intimidated.

The script may set us up for a “She won’t see him the same way…at first” scenario familiar to such thrillers. Quaid ensures that she has to be blind not to pick up the signals, the lip-smacking malice that oozes out of Charlie as they start to redecorate “my house.”

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Security cameras require drilling holes “in MY house,” and totally unnecessary.

“What is necessary is that I protect my way wife, Charlie.”

“Want to protect her? Get a gun!”

The performances mesh nicely, though Good (the “Think Like a Man” and “Anchor Man” movies) has little more to play than big, naive smiles for Charlie, and sex appeal. Ealy (“Sleeper Cell,” “For Colored Girls”) has a nice offhanded sarcasm about house buying, wife-pleasing, etc.

And Quaid is worth every cent they paid him to go Full Joker on these Frisco Buppies.

The paranoia rises with every time Charlie, supposedly “moving to Florida” to be with his daughter, drops in. The nerves fray every time he pops into the frame, unexpected, often accompanied by a LOUD music cue from Geoff Zanelli’s strident score.

That’s not totally fair. I mean, there might have been music and sound effects that I missed, because the more impressionable members of the audience I saw this with were shrieking in alarm at every string the fiddlers in charge played.

The very hallmarks of a “fun bad movie.”

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MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, terror, some sexuality, language and thematic elements

Cast: Meagan Good, Michael Ealy, Dennis Quaid

Credits:Directed by Deon Taylor, script by David Loughery . A Sony Screen Gems release.

Running time: 1:42

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