This Tuesday, July 30th, the latest psychological thriller from Deon Taylor, THE INTRUDER, gets its home release.
In THE INTRUDER, a young married couple, Annie (Meagan Good) and Scott (Michael Ealy) buy a beautiful house on several acres of land, in the scenic Napa Valley, only to find out that Charlie (Dennis Quaid), the man they bought it from refuses to let go of the property. Good and Ealy are a believable couple, who we watch go through ups and downs, but ultimately their trials bring them together and make their relationship stronger. Their performances and chemistry make it so I was rooting for them the whole time, even when Annie makes decisions we know she shouldn’t. Quaid gives what might be his most terrifying performance ever, but still manages to make you feel bad for Charlie…up to a point.
I had the pleasure of getting to sit down with Deon Taylor over lunch at the Rosenthal Winery in Malibu to talk about what it was like to direct this movie.
When asked about the casting, Taylor said that “Meagan was the first to sign on. Ealy was a bit of a stretch. I was trying to figure out if he would come to do the film, and he was like “I’m gonna do the movie!”, which was great.” Once he had the two of them, he knew he wanted something different, and Dennis Quaid, he’s “like everyone’s dad, he wanted to do something like this”. Deon actually wrote him a letter, asking him to do the movie, and sent it along with the script, and Quaid was totally into it. He loved the independent nature of the film.
Talking about the script, Deon said he sat down and read it in about 30 minutes, and he liked it, but it was a white film, there were no African Americans in it, and so some of the subplots and storylines weren’t there. So he decided to twist it up a bit and made the leads an affluent, successful, black couple. He added a backstory to show that their relationship was a little flawed, that there was a past, that they weren’t perfect, and personally I think that brought a really nice amount of dimension to them. You know they’re not perfect, but you care about what happened to make them that way, and you want them to win and be happy.
One of my favorite details that were revealed was about the fight scenes and stunts. Meagan and Michael didn’t want to do their own stunts at first, but Dennis was totally down. After a tiny bit of convincing, Good and Ealy gave in, and jumped right into it! At one point, Ealy actually does punch Quaid in the face, and in another scene, Quaid throws Ealy over the second-story railing…the scene was supposed to end at the point where Ealy hit the railing. Then a stunt double would come in, go over, and land in a planned, protected spot. Instead, Ealy actually went through the railing, and Quaid caught him by the pants before he went all the way over and landed on the lights and camera equipment below. That was the take that made it into the movie!
The house plays an incredibly important part of the movie, and finding the perfect place took quite a while. Deon had just about given up when he asked the driver if they had any listings for haunted houses in the area. As soon as he saw the photo, he knew it was the right house. Unfortunately, everyone else was like ”no…we can’t shoot here. It’s too small, there’s not enough space for the equipment, it just won’t work”. But Deon had made up his mind, and they did totally make it work. The house is almost its own character. Almost everything was already there; the shed, the secret door. The only thing they had to build was the tunnel that ran between the two.
Another aspect of the movie that I loved is that both Good and Ealy play the victim and hero at different times. She’s not the typical damsel in distress, and he’s not the typical hero running in to save her. They each play both parts and are given the chance to fall and to shine. Deon said that what the movie is really about is how things come into our lives and try to pull us apart, and Quaid’s character represents that evil. But in the end, finding the strength in yourself and each other, and working together to overcome it, is what ultimately makes a strong couple.
THE INTRUDER comes out Tuesday, July 30th on Blu-ray, and even if you saw THE INTRUDER in theaters, you’ll want to grab the Blu-ray to see the surprise alternate ending! For more on THE INTRUDER, read Dolores’ review here.
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