J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Intruder: Wake Up and Smell the Stalker

Granted, Elizabeth is a classical symphony musician rather than a jazz improviser, but you would still expect her to be sensitive and attuned to the presence of others around her. Instead, she has the intuition of canned spam. Unfortunately, that will cost her dearly in Travis Z[ariwny]’s Intruder (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in New York.

When not being sexually harassed by Vincent, her misogynistic conductor, Elizabeth (judging from the press notes, women don’t need last names in Portland. You can just refer to “Elizabeth” and people know you mean the mousy cellist) withdraws into her rather spacious duplex cocoon. However, unbeknownst to her, someone has violated her space. He creeps around spying and prying and leaving his germs in disgusting places. Clearly, escalation is steady and increasingly perilous, but the only one who tweaks to his predatory behavior is the unhelpful cat Elizabeth is sitting.

What a difference an “s” makes. Adam Schindler’s Intruders with an s, which hit theaters in January, was a subversively inventive home invasion thriller that delivers plenty of vicarious payback. In contrast, there is absolutely nothing cathartic about Intruder (singular). Frankly, Travis Z’s climax could only be considered a pay-off by stalkers and registered sex offenders, which makes you wonder what sort of target demo he had in mind.

One thing is for sure—this film isn’t much fun to watch. That is because there are no reversals of fortune or any kind of arc to it. Elizabeth’s prospects simply slide down a flat, steeply declining straight line. There isn’t even any suspense, since she is so staggeringly oblivious to her situation. Seriously, most coma patients are better attuned to their surroundings than she is.

At least Moby, the pretentious dance music guy, is absolutely convincing as the odious Vincent. For what it’s also worth, probably no one else ever worked so doggedly hard at finding ways to look in the wrong direction than Louise Linton’s Elizabeth. Of course, the invader’s identity is blindingly obvious due to the relatively few named characters. It is either the suspiciously creepy guy or the super-awkward dude.

There is really nothing going on with Intruder, but it makes one perversely curious how Travis Z pitched it: “…and then this spoilery violence happens—the end.” Not recommended, Intruder screens after midnight this Friday and Saturday (6/24 & 6/25) at the IFC Center in New York.

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