Before jumping into my 1.5-star rant, you must understand that parts of Intruder genuinely skeeved me out. Our homes are supposed to evoke feelings of safety and comfort, yet filmmaker Travis Zariwny suggests that those connections are nothing but false hope. Locks can be picked while we shower, rooms can be entered when we leave, and faces can be touched while we innocently slumber. Messed up, right?
Zariwny finds much more intrigue here than his shot-for-shot remake of Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever – but that’s all before his film’s unforgivable ending. We’re not just talking “bad.” We’re talking “a monumental let-down in every conceivable fashion.” With one soul-sucking decision, Zariwny jumps the shark in the most underwhelming fashion possible – no goods, no payoff, and certainly no grace.
Louise Linton stars as Elizabeth, a concert cellist who’s just been accepted into the London Philharmonic. This should be a joyous occasion, but her relationship comes into question when boyfriend Justin (played by Zach Myers) reveals that he can’t just abandon his own life. So, Elizabeth goes about practicing, meeting now friends, and wrestling with her life-altering decision, all while having no idea that she’s attracted a stealthy stalker. Somehow, at some time, a hooded man let himself into Elizabeth’s apartment, and he continues to lurk while staying out of sight. Will Elizabeth notice the clues before her new friend goes from silent to violent?
What Zariwny tries to do here is build a voyeuristic thriller that’s not about straight-laced kidnapping or a fight for survival. Elizabeth doesn’t sense that someone is always watching her – from inside her own house – as she more-or-less plays a game of close encounters of the duller kind. Her pursuer constantly appears as a background figure, whether it be in a mirror shot, doorway tease, or a bathroom entry – but interactions are at a sluggish minimum. Intruder hits a lesser Hangman vibe, as Zariwny shows more interest in his antagonist’s obsessive control fetish than a gory torture-flick.
This, in essence, is fine (for a bit). As the nameless vagrant pisses on dishes and takes bites out of fruit, we grow increasingly uncomfortable. Each despicable act leaves a longer breadcrumb trail for Elizabeth to eventually discover, and tension mounts as we wait for her cataclysmic realization. That’s the fun part of these movies, right? When the damsel finally realizes she’s been a target for days, and it becomes either time to fight back or scream bloody murder. Any good thriller accomplishes this feat, which explains why Intruder does not fit into such a category.
Just as Elizabeth’s predicament reaches a climax – WHAM! A title card flashes that reads “Intruder.” You can’t be cutting away at the best part. This is a joke, right?
Alas, the credits begin shortly thereafter, and a mundane (yet watchable) buildup is stricken down by an out-of-place ending that delivers in absolutely no regard. It’s the moment where Elizabeth’s stalker reveals himself (we already know who it is, to no surprise), and she’s about to either run for her lift or fight back. Instead, we hear him politely – and, yes, creepily – say “Bless You,” signifying that shit is about to go down.
AND THEN WE GET TO SEE ABSOLUTELY NONE OF SAID SHIT GO DOWN.
No. Inexcusable. In that moment, a good-enough buildup becomes an incredibly lacklustre feature film, and frustration trumps all emotions.
It’s the worst for Louise Linton, because she plays an objectified muse rather well. Linton has almost no support to work with – Moby (yes, that Moby) yells at her a lot, her boyfriend is a tool, an admirer awkwardly banters – yet she somehow materializes a fearful undertone out of thin air. As an unknowing victim, Linton does everything she’s asked to and more – it’s just nothing that can save an entire movie. I just want it stated that none of this is Linton’s fault, and I look forward to seeing her future genre work. That is all.
Well, actually, that’s not all – Intruder went from a passable three starts to a “maybe if you’re tied in bed and you can’t physically change the channel” kind of watch just because of an ending. One single decision that tarnishes an entire ninety minutes. You have to earn the right to be that bold, and unfortunately for Zariwny, he simply does not. What a weird, awful way to go out. I guess that’s why I shouldn’t get my hopes up so easily…
After being informed that Intruder‘s climax takes place in a post-credits scene, I will implore you to watch through about 20 seconds worth of rolling text. We do witness Elizabeth’s fate, but even with this information, the cutaway is still abrupt, and confusingly jumps from Point A to Point…like…N. We go from Elizabeth hearing someone under her bed, to a kidnap scenario where she wakes up in a strange place. So, yes – there is more finality than alluded to above, but there’s still a jarring stoppage and no actual twist. Post-credits sequences are meant for frivolous yet fun additions – not plot-defining climaxes.
It's amazing how Intruder's ending can ruin ninety minutes worth of buildup material in three seconds.