Intruder (1989) Review

For nearly two decades Intruder was a movie that seemed more talked about than seen and it became sort of a Holy Grail for genre buffs. After a small distribution in the late 80s, Intruder disappeared as mysteriously as it had appeared a short time earlier. A good portion of the people involved, who were almost complete unknowns then, would go on to become heroes to a generation of horror and fantasy fans worldwide. Intruder sports an awesome cast (well partially awesome, more on that later) consisting of masters of the genre like Sam and Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell (Granted, Ted might not be a master, but he’s still pretty cool!). Unfortunately, time can be cruel and after all these years, Intruder feels like an unsuccessful attempt to capture the formula that made Sam Raimi such a giant in the industry. This Evil Dead gone slasher is still a fun little popcorn movie, but despite a fervent attempt at recreating a unique blue-print, it comes across more like a beautiful train wreck.

Part of the revamp of a tired premise has Intruder taking place almost entirely inside a supermarket after hours. A graveyard crew finds themselves locked inside with a maniac who intends to make good use of all the potentially dangerous weaponry a store of this ilk has. End of storyline. Luckily, the violence in Intruder is a gore filled feast for the eyes. There are lots of gruesome killings (SPFX supplied by the masters at KNB) including an eye-gouging, hammer-beating and band-saw-head-cutting to name a few, which are delivered in such a gleeful and visually pleasing manner, it makes the shortcomings a bit easier to forgive.

When it comes down to it, most slasher films are pretty unoriginal. The worth of the film lies in its execution and the actors’ willingness to step up to the plate and create strong, believable and unirritating characters… no easy feat. Though Intruder gives it a good shot, it lacked both a knack for re-creating the roadmap and although some of the cast were great (Sam Raimi is especially adorable here) a few of them blended together to the point I couldn’t tell who was who. And is it just me or should have Jennifer Aniston look-alike Renee Estevez been given the final girl title instead of the wooden Elizabeth Cox?

The director and long time friend of Raimi, Scott Spiegel, does his best to inject some playful camera work, but after all these years it feels more like he’s attempting to copy Raimi’s unique visual style already used to it’s ultimate potential in Evil Dead II (which Spiegel co-wrote). Had Raimi not made it big, would I still be comparing their styles? Probably not, but it certainly sticks out like a sore thumb now.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Scott Spiegel isn’t without talent, in fact I’m saying the opposite… I’m only stating that I would have liked to have seen him step out of his superstar friend’s shadow and spread his own wings. And in the years since Intruder he certainly has. Alas, Intruder will unfortunately fall prey to a jaded public far too familiar with Raimi’s signature stamp and may only appeal to die-hard fans of 80s horror.

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