The takeaway from Deon Taylor’s pleasantly cheesy thriller “The Intruder” is this: Do not buy a house from Dennis Quaid. More precisely, do not buy a house from some dude named Charlie who grins in that scary, curly Dennis Quaid way, like a circus clown who’s been watching a lot of Jack Nicholson movies — because you will rue the day, my friend. That’s what happens to Scott (Michael Ealy) and Annie (Meagan Good), a nice young couple who have no idea that buying a pretty house in the Napa Valley will lead to some “Fatal Attraction”-ish shenanigans. Next time, kids, use a realtor.
Here’s the deal with Charlie, played by Quaid with the unnerving combination of a cheerful smile and an evil glint in the eye: He’s a widower who’s very attached to the house he’s selling; so attached that he keeps showing up after the sale, to mow the lawn and check on the property and spy on Scott and Annie (who are rich and successful and yet weirdly at home making out most of the time). He has guns, lots of them, and he knows things about poisonous flowers that grow on the property. And even when Scott and Annie wise up, changing the locks and installing an elaborate home security system, he has an uncanny way of showing up in dark corners inside the house, with his Cheshire-cat grin. (The movie never explains how he does this, but I think he’s a B-list Avenger with a very specific superpower. The other Avengers, understandably, don’t like him, which is why he’s stuck in this movie.)
“The Intruder” progresses exactly how you think it will, with Scott and Annie making a lot of clueless decisions (why does Annie keep inviting Charlie in? And why does she take baths in a dark house without locking the doors? Hasn’t she seen “Fatal Attraction”?) and Charlie becoming increasingly unhinged. There’s exactly one good jump-scare, which probably would have caused me to drop my popcorn if I hadn’t finished it already; otherwise it’s fairly uninspired. But something about Quaid’s delivery had me giggling throughout — or, at least, until things got rather too dark in the final minutes.
“Foxglove is poisonous, isn’t it?” wonders Annie, early on. “Highly,” says Charlie, eyebrows raised to the heavens, in a tone so fraught with evil that you expect him to be twirling a mustache. It’s not exactly a subtle performance, but it’s definitely entertaining.
★★ “The Intruder,” with Michael Ealy, Meagan Good, Dennis Quaid, Joseph Sikora. Directed by Deon Taylor, from a screenplay by David Loughery. 102 minutes. Rated PG-13 for violence, terror, some sexuality, language and thematic elements. Opens May 3 at multiple theaters.