The high amount of content available on Netflix makes it the king when it comes to satisfying the feeling of “finding something to watch”. The company has managed to basically standardize the quality of its lineup of films, and the results are very consistent, but the results leave a lot to be desired. The standard Netflix release nowadays falls into the range of awful to passable, and with at least one new movie release a week, it might be hard to change that output of quality in the near future. In which category does Intrusion fall?
Intrusion is directed by Adam Salky and stars Freida Pinto and Logan Marshall-Green. The film tells the story of a couple living in a majestic house located in a very small town. When they fall victim to a home invasion, the wife starts having doubts about the reason for the crime and will start digging up very dangerous secrets.
The output of films from Netflix has become a very interesting phenomenon to experience and study. They have managed to release at least one new film every week no matter what, and when other streaming services have been struggling to make new content, Netflix has plenty of it. Sadly, Intrusion doesn’t break the mold in any shape or form when it comes to the “new Netflix movie of the week”. The film is exactly like so many previous ones in both tone, production level and storytelling.
What starts as a very solid premise quickly devolves into the same old tropes and conventions we often see in many, many other films. By the moment the credits roll, you will definitely have the feeling that you have seen this before. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t good either. It’s just one more failed attempt at creating something new by using the same methods, so many other filmmakers have used before. It’s actually something very close to the definition of insanity, but Netflix and tons of filmmakers keep doing it, for some reason.
And that is the biggest failing of the movie. As a thriller, the story should take you on a journey of questions, and it should reveal the answers little by little, to create pacing, tension, and mystery. The question that Intrusion presents is answered almost immediately, but the movie keeps pretending that there isn’t an answer. It becomes frustrating watching Freida Pinto’s character, knowing that something is wrong but doing nothing about it, and acting like maybe the answers aren’t in front of her face.
When the conclusion comes with its predictable answer to the mystery, there is no shock, or catharsis. There’s just a profound sense of relief that the movie will soon be over.
Fortunately, Salky has two excellent actors in the lead roles who do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to taking the story seriously. Even when the character choices come off as incoherent or even dumb, Pinto and Marshall-Green come off as serious actors doing the best they can. Marshall-Green is a special case, though. He has proven throughout his career that he is a very solid actor, being able to do a very expansive range of roles, from comedic to the truly dramatic. So, there is no question that he can pull off a role like this. The problem arrives with the visual styling that the production gave to the character. From the first moment you see him on camera, you know who this character is and what he’s going to do. Destroying any sense of mystery and making a predictable movie into an even more predictable one, if that’s possible.
Pinto, on the other hand, continues to be the pretty face we all remember, but her acting abilities are much more improved nowadays. Her character, though, doesn’t defy any speciations. You know what she’s going to do and what is going to happen to her, and you will not be wrong. None of the actors are bad, but the material they’re working with drags them down, and they cannot do much to elevate the material. When Pinto’s character arc comes to an end, it feels very much like an unearned resolution.
In terms of visuals, the movie is well shot and the house that serves as the main location is very impressive. It’s a shame that Salky doesn’t know how to take advantage of the landscape and the house, making the movie feel plain and barren. There were so many great opportunities here for visual storytelling, and to push the composition of the shots towards something interesting. But Salky doesn’t seem to be that kind of director, or has no intention of being one with those things in mind.
The movie also works only on a superficial level, the story doesn’t hold any kind of commentary in any form. It doesn’t have to. There are many films out there that are just what they appear to be, and that’s very good. But here the execution is lacking, so it feels as if the effort just ends there. There’s nothing more to it.
Watching Intrusion is a mindless task, and by the end you will feel mildly entertained or completely bored. The Netflix movie factory needs content, and it needs tons of it, but if the answer to getting so much content is the constant lowering of the quality, it’s hard to ask if it’s worth it.
Let’s hope that in the years to come the quality can level up to the quantity that is being offered.