|Review||Intruder (1989)||Director||Scott Spiegel|
|Writers||Lawrence Bender (story) and Scott Spiegel (screenplay)|
|Cast||Elizabeth Cox, Renée Estevez, Dan Hicks, David Byrnes, Sam Raimi, Eugene Robert Glazer, Billy Marti, Burr Steers, Craig Stark and Ted Raimi|
“I guess I just got a little carried away” – Killer
The owners of a local convenience store, Danny (Glazer) and Bill (Hicks), inform their staff that the store will be closing down and ask everyone to stay a little late to mark everything off 50%. The workers consist of cashiers Jennifer (Cox) and Linda (Estevez), meat worker Randy (Sam Raimi) and his helping hand Produce Joe (Ted Raimi) and store workers Dave (Marti), Bub (Steers) and Tim (Stark). Things start off badly when Jennifer’s ex, Craig (Byrnes), shows up in a threatening way near closing time and has physical altercations with her fellow workers. They manage to throw him out but it’s clear he’s not going anywhere. As the night wears on the staff is dispatched off in severely grisly ways until only one is left standing to face a maniac.
The tail end of the 80’s didn’t produce many classics in the horror genre as the slasher film had already exhausted it’s well and sequels in established franchises such as “Friday the 13th”, “Halloween” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” were among the highlights as the 90’s neared. It’s stretching it to call “Intruder” a classic but it is an enjoyable late entry in a genre that was all but disappearing to a direct to Video market until one Wes Craven delivered “Scream” (1996). That’s for the most part thanks to some astonishing make-up effects and an overall gruesome nature in the flick’s kill scenes that “Intruder” scores highly among genre buffs.
“Intruder” starts off very shakily as the staff in the convenience store is introduced and has a confrontation with shady looking Craig who is harassing ex-girlfriend Jennifer. The following fight scene is so clumsily staged and handled that it’s safe to say that the film doesn’t grab the viewer from the first frame. Thankfully it settles down after that, the above average cast create a nice camaraderie and the mood is set for a chamber piece slasher with a neat location in the large convenience store that’s chock full of cool set-ups for graphic kill scenes. Director Spiegel creates a decent brooding atmosphere as the workers one by one are killed off in spectacular fashion. Inventive camera angles and overall very decent craftmanship in terms of lighting and staging set pieces help carry the film over a few rough spots. It’s quite evident that the budget was fairly miniscule but talented people behind the camera pull their weight. “Intruder” also piles on the gore and nastiness but does so slickly and convincingly enough that those extreme scenes induce a wow factor rather than a vomiting one. The overall polished and stylish look (use of shadows and lighting etc.) makes sure that the gory highlights are not evoking the low budget grindhouse effect that leaves a bad aftertaste. The effects work comes courtesy of the KNB EFX Group (Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger) that would later work on such projects as “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, and “The Walking Dead” series.
The film’s cast is decent and the cardboard characters make for a solid group although no one is a particular standout. It’s fun to see Sam Raimi and we also get a Bruce Campbell cameo near the end. The script is fairly witty at times and several hilarious, and quotable, lines stand out. The main mystery is fairly far fetched without being insulting but there are a number of illogical and absurd moments in the film that stick out. But us viewers (and lovers) of these types of films have always been very forgiving in this department.
All in all; “Intruder” comes highly recommended to the right crowd.