Studio: Sony Pictures
Director: Adam Massey
Writer: Jason Juravic
Producer: Jeff Sackman, Nicholas D. Tabarrok
Stars: Miranda Cosgrove, Donal Logue, Austin Butler, Jenessa Grant, Michael Luckett, Tom Sizemore
A grieving young woman discovers that her family’s new home may hide a secret connection to a young girl’s disappearance.
Mischa Barton did it in the “Apartment 1303” remake (review here). So did Abigail Breslin in “Haunter” (review here). Haylie Duff and Beverley Mitchell teamed up together to take their turns in “Asylum of the Dead” (a.k.a. “Pennhurst” a.k.a. “The Lost Episode”). With “The Intruders,” Miranda Cosgrove throws her own cap in the ring as the next actress to chip at a child star past by graduating into a moping young woman pitted against a tormenting haunted house.
With a near-permanent pout and a shoulder-slumped sulk, 20-year-old Rose moves into a new home following her mother’s tragic death. Depressive grief turns to oppressive terror when a severed doll head starts randomly appearing throughout the house in between bouts of bumps in the night and discoveries of hidden rooms. Once she learns that the previous owner disappeared mysteriously, with a runaway tenant (who happens to be the same age as Rose) and weirdo son also missing, Rose comes to believe that a paranormal presence is leading her to the truth behind the vanishings. Although the steely-eyed stare of next-door neighbor Tom Sizemore warns Rose that the real danger might not be so supernatural in nature.
As a mystery movie, “The Intruders” features the kind of slow drip reveal where the protagonist finds clues only when convenient for the pace. For instance, it isn’t until several days after taking up residency in the house when Rose discovers a locked wooden door in the basement that fully kickstarts her investigation. Because who checks out every room in the place first thing upon moving into a new home? Better to leave whatever exists in the cellar for until there is time to acclimate to the other two floors. As the thriller thread continues taking its time unraveling casually, the characterizations remain so rote and the horror so humdrum that the story could have been auto-completed by a semi-sentient screenwriting program.
Donal Logue, playing a part that does not require Donal Logue, is Rose’s stereotypically inattentive father too busy with work to give his grieving daughter the attention she craves. When he is around, dad’s purpose is to bounce back Rose’s Chicken Little claims of conspiracies and ghostly activity with patronizing protestations along the lines of, “it’s all in your head, sweetie.” Dad is not so much a character as he is an obligatory hurdle. Logue’s management might consider lacing up the eyelets on its screen to prevent similarly routine roles from pockmarking his résumé in the future.
Dad’s void at the homestead is filled by Noah, a smooth-skinned, fair-featured construction worker sporting a freshly shorn salon cut more apropos for a fashion runway than a gutter stripping session. With Noah being both impossibly handsome and coincidentally the same age as Rose (just like the missing tenant and the girl next door), he trades in his duct tape and pipe wrench to couple up for a fast fostering, CW-style romance neither here nor there in the onscreen heat or plot importance departments.
The echoing tinkle of piano keys accompanies an opening montage of slow pans across decaying old dolls. The camera switches to shaky handheld for those hectic moments when Rose might be acting “crazy.” A conveniently discovered necklace links the three key ladies in the story. Lights flicker spookily. Someone suddenly sits up straight in bed after waking from a nightmare. The female lead trips while running. There are even multiple library research scenes highlighted by blueprint discrepancies and one of those movie magic search engines trying to be Google without actually being Google. In short, “The Intruders” trudges with staunch commitment down a checklist of suspense thriller tropes to churn out a predictable production, albeit one at least glimmering with professional polish.
Against Kate Hudson in “The Skeleton Key,” Kelen Coleman in “Cassadaga” (review here), or any of the ladies mentioned in paragraph one, making “The Intruders” a top choice for middling suspense entertainment comes down to whether or not Miranda Cosgrove is the attractive young actress preferred for taking on the haunted history of a spooky house and its slow burn secrets. Ticking peripheral boxes for milquetoast suspense mixing vengeful ghost haunting with small town mystery focused on a troubled heroine, “The Intruders” boils down to another log for the pile of formulaic thrillers better suited as midweek made-for-cable filler.
Review Score: 45