In the psychological thriller Intruder, directed by Travis Zariwny, a young, blonde, vulnerable cellist (Louise Linton) just wants to spend a weekend holed up alone in her apartment—but her stalker has other plans. Readers in the big cities can see the film in theaters, this Friday, June 17, at the Laemmle’s Monica Film Center in Los Angeles and in New York at the IFC Center. For the rest of us, the film’s available to stream on demand, in all digital platforms.
You needn’t look farther than the iconic movie poster to see that Zariwny’s film fits the bill for a classic midnight movie. We have at the forefront a vulnerable woman, seemingly unaware of the shadowy, malevolent figure looming in the distance. The words Intruder are spelled out in cartoonish blood, so we can be reasonably assured that someone will get hurt.
Humans are sick; we like to watch someone being watched. There’s a certain identification with the protagonist: She’s nice, smart and reasonable—but we know more than she does. In fact, the audience has more in common with the killer than his victim, and this structure provides us a safe space to be bad.
For an entire weekend, our cellist Elizabeth flits about her dark apartment with a thunderstorm waging outside. She seems to have the feeling that she’s being watched, but the audience knows for sure. Elizabeth’s fighting with her boyfriend and just wants to spend the weekend alone with a bottle of wine. (Just one bottle for the whole weekend? I’m not impressed.) There’s at least one victim before Elizabeth, but it does little to satiate his bloodlust. He seems to move throughout her house with almost supernatural access, and yet we never see his face.
There are a lot of men drifting in and out of Elizabeth’s life, and everyone’s a suspect. Techno star Moby shows up in the film’s first scenes as Elizabeth’s mean boss at the Philadelphia Orchestra. He stands over her, rubbing her shoulders weirdly, telling her she needs to “try fucking harder” at playing the cello. Hello, suspect number one! Moby’s actions are indicative of the unwanted touching women are often made to endure in a cut-throat workplace. It reminded me of an image I saw on a college campus once: A young man rubbing the shoulders of a plainly uncomfortable girl, and I kid you not, the man’s t-shirt said, “This is what a feminist looks like.”
Intruder has a dark, brooding color pallet that reminded me of David Fincher’s moodier haunts. Otherwise, the film doesn’t earn such an exalted comparison. This is a consummate B-movie that follows the tropes of a stalker thriller in predictable but satisfying ways. If you’re looking for some good voyeuristic evil to see you through these last, chilly days before summer, Intruder fits the bill.