Unhinged Dennis Quaid is the Only Dennis Quaid
Unhinged Dennis Quaid used to be mischievous Dennis Quaid, a lithe, handsome rogue with a twinkle in his eye and a goofy devil-may-care smile. He was never a serious actor, or a good one, but he had star wattage and an easy charm. Vanity overcompensated as time took its toll. When his skin turned leathery and his temples started to gray, he jacked up his muscles and started slathering on that dark-chestnut Just for Men hair dye. Now he’s Unhinged Dennis Quaid. And unhinged Dennis Quaid is a delight.
THE INTRUDER ★★ (2/5 stars)
Directed by: Deon Taylor
Written by: David Loughery
Starring: Michael Ealy, Meagan Good, Joseph Sikora, Dennis Quaid
Running time: 102min
The Intruder recognizes what Dennis Quaid has become and showcases him perfectly. This bad-seed psychological thriller is a delicious throwback to a time when early ’90s yuppie nightmares like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and Sleeping with the Enemy were multiplex catnip to the paranoid affluent. Those movies weren’t very memorable, and neither is The Intruder. But they were trashy fun that threatened a sort of upscale Pottery Barn bliss. They reveled in increasingly preposterous plot twists.
These films don’t do subtle or deep. Shorthand works just fine. So bright, accomplished Scott Howard (Michael Ealy) is a generic creative director at a generic branding company who “closes that big deal.” His beautiful wife Annie (Meagan Good) is apparently a journalist at a woman’s empowerment magazine, whatever that is, although we never see her do any work. None of it really matters anyway, beyond establishing that the young couple is smart, sophisticated, and moneyed.
Annie wants to move out of San Francisco up to wine country and raise a family in Napa. Scott reluctantly agrees. The pair find a grand country house on a bucolic plot of land. Charlie Peck (unhinged Dennis Quaid), the widower looking to sell, accepts a reduced offer of $3.3 million, musty furniture and creepy tapestry included. Except Peck keeps popping up on the property. Like, a lot. With a rifle.
Director Deon Taylor seems to embrace the B-movie soul of David Loughery’s script and clearly leans into it. He also reportedly contributed the film’s best conceit: take the yuppies and turn them into buppies. Sure, it’s not on the level of a Jordan Peele-aha moment, but it helps slightly deepen an otherwise paper-thin premise. What’s more delicious than watching attractive, accomplished African-American newlyweds legally buy a house from an NRA-loving old white man constantly wearing a bright red baseball cap? And then that old white man stalks them, literally lurks in their backyard, and eventually tells them to get out of his house?
Best Scott line: “I need to get my ass back to Napa.” Best Charlie line: “What happened to my tapestry?!?” The Annie line comes when she asks Charlie to please not talk about firearms around her husband because Scott’s brother was the victim of gun violence. “It’s a trigger for him.” Guns are a trigger for him!
It’s hard to pan a movie this entertaining, but it’s also hard to recommend The Intruder with a straight face. How do you hate a film where the villain sheepishly says, “I was just getting some potting soil”? The film shamelessly steals from The Shining by having Charlie axe someone to death before hacking his way through a door to get to Annie. But even that’s a little endearing.
“It’s all about his house!” wails Charlie’s estranged daughter towards the end, which incidentally cuts to the credits with almost radical efficiency. Sure, the house is important to Charlie. But do not fuck with his tapestry.