The rise of the Black Thrillers, whether they be Romance or in the case of “The Intruder” Horror; challenges me as a critic. This challenges me additionally as a Black Film Critic. It’s not that their presence is problematic. It’s far from it. I stumbled into a social media thread the other day that lambasted Black Films for there stereotyped poor production quality and critical success. I then had to think back to the films that have been released recently and where they fell with my critique. Most of my reviews, sadly have been negative; but not without merit.
I believe in the power of storytelling and filmmaking and have gone to school and read books about the elements that make it an incredible art form. Art at its essence is a subjective medium, but still has many objective areas within it. Is a scene lit properly? Does this movie sound good? Is this film written well? Directing critiques must be a blend of both though. Ultimately, the director’s job is to tell a story with the script and have it amplified through the camera lens hopefully to reach a goal.
Some goals are clear while others are murky. Take the recent hit with Jordan Peele’s “Us”. Comparatively to his last project “Get Out”, “Us” is less straight forward and leaves its self-open for more dissection as to what he was going for. I found audiences overly projecting what they wanted on to the film, that for some left it to be an unsatisfying experience.
I stumbled upon Director Deon Taylor talking on a podcast about his goal for “The Intruder”. I really try to stay away from other reviews or interviews of the films I’m doing a write up on as to not be influenced in anyway. Taylor said his goal for this film was to have the audience engage with it in the theater, yelling at the screen. That’s a matter of taste but can we say it doesn’t work? There’s this term growing up where I did, I heard a lot. “For us by us, F.U.B.U”. “The Intruder” is a decent budget indie film with more than adequate production values and stars in its cast. This formula over the past decade has churned out 3+ films a year boasting small budgets between $8-$20 million, opening to or almost doubling its production costs, but consistently receives lackluster critical acclaim despite favorable audience scores.
Films like “The Perfect Guy”, “No Good Deed”, “When the Bough Breaks”, “Acrimony”. I could keep going. These productions keep going despite the critics. Despite the labels, the stereotypes. So, do I have to add to the critics that don’t affect these films from changing things up?
What are you saying Kolby? Are you going to stump for Black Films and other films that aren’t regularly attended by white audiences that seem to make up the critic space that continuously rail against these properties not considering cultural context or the goals the filmmakers set out to attain?
“The Intruder” objectively rehashes a lot of the same old clichés of similar films in this genre. A film doesn’t have to be completely original, but if it’s not then the quest should be to give you characters that are interesting and you root for. That’s not to say that you’re not rooting for our protagonists in this film, but what’s written are very surface level characters that are quite unmemorable.
There’s high quality actors working on this film and their talents are wasted on a script that can’t seem to grasp their potential or proper character development. Dennis Quaid’s Charlie is a vile portrayal of crazed schizophrenia, but never goes deep enough to understand what makes him tick. His goal as a character is flimsy at best and while its and enjoyable take for the loveable acting vet, your too distracted by his confusing motivations to look past them.
The direction in “The Intruder” may have been to convey a gripping story for the audience to engage with but could’ve been done more intelligently. This film felt cheap despite its production values. The selection of music to score this movie had no consistent tone but to cue the audience very basically on what’s to come in a scene. That’s how they teach you to do it in school, but the choices were ineffective and felt like the songs were being plucked out of a CD binder from your car.
“The Intruder” is not a bad film because it’s a Black Film. It’s a bad film because it’s a bad film. Not to say you can’t have fun with a bad film. I kind of did. However, when a bad film lacks heart, that’s not so fun. The script is the heart of the movie. When you mesh a bad script with unclear narrative goals, a cast that does the best it could with what it had, and the directors lack of focus cinematically doesn’t payoff; you get “The Intruder”.
KOLBYTOLDME RATING- 5/10
Directors: Deon Taylor
Writer: David Loughery
Starring: Michael Ealy, Meagan Good, Dennis Quaid, Joseph Sikora
Run Time: 102 mins