Intruder

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OK, so the film begins by panning down from the opening credit moon to a square-looking grocery store (not one of those hip ones that are all the rage these days). Inside the store, we cruise the aisles via shopping cart cam. Just another day in the dumpiest part of town as our probable protagonists (girl power) are cashiers at this crummy store. At this point, I’m worried this is going to be a rip-off of the excellent Night of the Comet.

These two cashier gals humiliate an old man and one of the girls (they’re both blonde, and they’re both Totally 80’s, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I want to say one of their names is Linda but I’m probably wrong.) Tom Jane from Homeless Dad is standing outside looking like he’s about to ask for spare change and I’m betting he’s the, “you think I’m a bad guy but really I’m a good guy” character, but at this point in the game it’s too early to tell.

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“I just want my kids back!”

And like that, he’s gone. But he returned his shopping cart to the front of the store so I’m gonna guess good guy. Oh wait, there he is in the reflection of the entrance staring menacingly at our young cashier. So I guess he’s a bad guy.

Aaand then he’s in the store. And, whoops, he’s like this girl’s asshole boyfriend that just got out of prison. Her name is Jennifer, which I learn when he shouts it and pounds on the counter. So he’s a leather-jacketed fuck and “the girls,” as the asshole manager calls them, have to stand there being terrified. Hey, a pack of smokes go for $1.35 in this time!

So his name’s Craig, and she’s telling him that it’s over and has been over, and he’s terrifyingly insistent on making her love him. He goes a little nuts and grabs her and some unpleasant violence occurs between him and some of the people in the store. He’s either a good fighter or these guys suck at fighting. So there’s meat-punch sound effects as everyone takes this guy on.

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Hallmark’s goons roam grocery stores to rough up customers.

So Craig’s a real fightmaster, and he shoves a clerk in an apron just for good measure into a Diet Pepsi display, the destruction of which the manager is none too happy about. Then the slacker clerk that got shoved opens a package of cookies and scarfs them down, and then goes into the meat locker because he’s the butcher? But he doesn’t look like a butcher. Why would I know what a butcher should look like? Because I’ve worked in the grocery business from stem to stern (or rather, produce clerk to manager), and butchers are usually either serial killer-looking motherfuckers or Leatherface’s cousin. And sometimes they are lady butchers because this is a society we’re living in, people!

The butcher Adidas sneakers around the place like he’s looking for something. Are they looking for the guy? A scene explaining that would have been nice. So Manager Man is also here, and he looks like a guy that changed his name a few times in life to evade various crimes. Then a guy looks out of the elevated security panel watch post (I have lots of grocery store knowledge. They call me the Grocery Store Kid.)

So butcher/clerk has a goofball friend who comes across like the Jon Lovitz liar character and turns out to be the produce clerk (so he’s probably pretty cool. Source: I used to be a produce clerk.) and he’s a tall gangly dude with thick-framed glasses, so I guess he really is my brother. So now more fucking people show up and they’re the comic relief, and there are a lot of people are showing up at this grocery store to just kind of hang out. The other blonde girl’s (her name is Becky, presumably with the good hair) boyfriend shows up, too, so there’s more characters. This is very hard to follow so far. A dude falls off a ladder. I don’t know.

So now (looks up for name) Jennifer is on the phone, and Craig Creep of the Week busts in, and now he’s got her right where he wants her and is a fucking psycho. She gives him some money because that’s what you do with dudes to get them away from you, but then he gets way fresh with her, and three of the store dudes bum rush him. He seems insanely strong for the wormy little man that he is. Maybe these guys are just pussies. They kick Craig out and circle up for their end-of-shift meeting.

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Reflections: A Love Story

Manager Man and Assistant Man let them know that they’re selling this dump and are laying everybody off. The kids are bummed and all of the guys are wearing flannel shirts, so maybe they’re going to start a grunge band after this. Assistant Man mealy-mouths some excuse about how he was dicked over by a 2% difference in ownership and I’m wondering when this fucking movie’s going to start.

Jennifer answers the phone and it’s Craig. She hangs up. The phone keeps ringing. We’re 1/5th of the way through the movie and who goddamn knows when something’s going to happen. Jen lets slip that she dated Craig the Creep for two months a year ago and that he’s been in prison up until just now. Craig apparently killed a dude in a bar fight and only got a year in jail because THE SYSTEM WORKS.

More “suspense” is built, but I don’t know how scared of Craig I am. There’s, like, 10 people in this store, and as mentioned before, he’s pretty wormy. We get scenes of the butcher putting away an order and a checkout girl tagging down the merchandise and I think a reel from an orientation video for working in a supermarket got slipped in here somewhere. “Plot” keeps going and goddammit I’m not going to write anything else until something actually happens in the film.

And it does! Kind of, eight interminable minutes later, when Becky With the Good Hair is accosted by a man holding a gigantic knife and….I don’t know, because this movie doesn’t show anything but an artsy-craftsy cut to a watermelon being sliced in half. Come on, movie, do something!

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Pictured: Not Something

Wacky produce gork eats a watermelon and Manager Man and Assistant Man grouse over bills and we’re back to nothing again. Jennifer has a bloody nose(?) and Assistant Man crushes some cardboard in the compactor. This movie’s really making me nostalgic for my days in the grocery game: stocking shelves, crushing cardboard, eating watermelon while on-duty…oh and Assistant Man gets a hammer to the temple from Craig. Meh.

At this point, I’m wondering why this movie even exists. I guess the director was a friend of Sam Raimi’s. Not only do I not care about any of these characters, but the movie’s not even delivering on the horror. It’s a slow, meandering film that isn’t punctuated by anything in particular. And also Manager Man gets strangled and gets a receipt needle (I don’t know, that thing that you stick papers through to hold them in place? Sure, receipt needle.) through the eye, but the effect is like who gives a care.

How nobody notices that three people that work there have been murdered yet is stupid, but not in the fun way. Jennifer still has a nosebleed and her boyfriend(?) reassures(?) her by squeezing her arms(?). They start getting hot and heavy on the conveyor belt and Craig and a clerk independently peep on this action because this supermarket is located somewhere in Sodom. More bullshit about working in a supermarket transpires, and the produce guy (nooo!) gets a knife in the head. So there’s that.

I’m eyeing the time and am dismayed to find that there’s another 43 minutes left in the movie. For a guy who’s worked in the grocery biz for a long time and enjoyed it quite a bit, actually watching a movie about people working in a grocery store is astonishingly dull. This movie comes across like an ironic Portlandia sketch, only not funny. And then Jennifer’s boyfriend(?) gets it in the tummy.

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Tums are on aisle 5.

What kind of supermarket is this? Everyone’s working the overnight shift, which is not how supermarkets work. That’s for third shifters that make ten bucks more an hour because working overnight sucks. Anyway, another fucking person gets killed, and we’re supposed to care about this, but we don’t because this movie’s not very good.

And the reason I’m complaining so much is because it’s like any other horror movie, only there are no good practical effects (well, one of the guys gets his head crushed in the compactor, so that was pretty good, I guess) and the motive for any of this doesn’t go any further than “psycho ex-boyfriend decides to murder his girlfriend’s co-workers for no reason.” Another dude gets lifted up (because the 5’5” 130-pound Craig is superhumanly strong) and his face is impaled on a hook. So at least more murders are occurring in more creative ways now more frequently. Still a half hour to go.

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Hey! Quit hanging around! I guess he’s off the hook. Looks like he was hoisted by his own petard. And another pun.

Wait, I guess that wasn’t Jennifer’s boyfriend earlier, but all of the guys kind of look the same in this movie, so it’s hard to follow. And also who cares? Maybe he is dead already. Maybe I’m dead. And so are you oooooo! (TWIST!)

So the not-dead boyfriend is up in the catwalk shoplifter window thingy and acts like a goddamn idiot when he comes across Manager Man bleeding from the eye like a guy that was stabbed in the eye. Then he gets some of his forehead cut off by Craig and is dragged across the floor towards the carving station. I’m waiting to see if the practical effects are good as he gets his head chopped in half sideways, and they are, so I’m still on this movie’s side…for now.

I don’t know, so Jennifer’s I guess the last one alive and her boyfriend’s name is Dave, which I just learned right now, and she somehow hasn’t noticed up until now that everyone she was working with that night has suddenly disappeared.

Jennifer steps on an eyeball because gross, and a side of pork slides her way on the meat hook conveyor belt, and then she finds Hook Face hanging there with a hook in his face. She locks herself in the meat locker because of course she does, and I’m just waiting for this goddamn thing to be over now. Still 25 minutes to go.

She gets out of the freezer when she finds somebody else in there, slides Hook Face’s body against the door, then bolts…to the second floor of the supermarket. Because you just discovered multiple dead bodies, so running up to the manager’s office is probably the best move. But blood is pouring out from under the door. She runs away and goes down a Pee Wee’s Playhouse-esque slide(?) that brings her face-to-face to her bisected boyfriend(?).

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Get it?

It’s the classic “last girl alive screams through the final 20 minutes of the movie as she runs away from the psycho” horror trope, and she finds her boyfriend(?) also dead on another conveyor belt. This is the weirdest supermarket I’ve ever seen. Why do any of these features exist in this place? I’m going to write a strongly worded letter to The Supermarket Association of America, which is an organization I just made up.

So I guess her boyfriend(?) was the one that got the ol’ face-chop (again: almost all of the guys in this movie literally look identical to each other), and she kind of casually says, “Oh my god,” before running some more. Is she locked in this place? Can she not leave? Why?

Anyway, Craig comes up to her, and she punches him in the face, once, which knocks him out. Was everybody else just made of tissue paper? How can this seemingly super-strong immortal get laid out with just one punch from this 100-pound woman? I suspect that nobody involved in the production was thinking too hard about any aspect of this movie.

OK, last 20 minutes: Craig is knocked out and Jennifer hears something else in the store. I was waiting for this twist, and here it is: Assistant Man was behind the slaughter! Of course he was. If we just paid attention to the poorly plotted story and crummy dialogue, we could have figured this out ourselves! Only who gives a shit!

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“I’m the twist, y’all!”

Anyway, she figures this out in like five seconds, and Assistant Man goes nutso and starts murdering after her. He picks her up by the hair (does this movie take place in a universe where average sized men are secret dynamos?) and Assistant Man gives the reasons for his massacre (he didn’t want to sell the store, you see). Jennifer remains defiant and knocks his skull with a bottle. She runs some more around the aisles, because that’s not getting boring to watch at all, and Assistant Man picks up a cleaver.

More horseshit occurs for a while. 15 minutes left. I just looked up a few paragraphs and saw “20 minutes left” and that feels like a lifetime ago at this point. I realize that Assistant Man reminds me of a former co-worker who was a divorced middle-aged dad and I disliked him immensely because he was a gossipy, annoying idiot. So there’s something for me to dislike about this character that the film barely sketched out in the first place.

He starts a-choppin’ away at a li’l kiosk she was hiding in, and guess what? More shots of her running down the aisles! Then she actually picks up a weapon because she works in a grocery store, and those places are filled with lots of things that can kill people. Which was kind of what this movie was pointing at the whole time, but whatever.

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A scene from her failed sitcom pilot, Knifing Around.

A bit of “fun” here as Assistant Man takes a break from his murdering and puts some items back on the shelf. Then he busts through some shelving and starts strangling Jennifer, but a jar of wheat germ to his head stops that. She still can’t get out of this place, even though grocery stores are chock-a-block full of exits. This one even has unbreakable glass in the sliding exit doors, just like no grocery store on Earth does.

A random dude trying to get into the store dies from Assistant Man, who got outside somehow. Wait, I don’t get it: if Assistant Man was attacked earlier, how is he also the killer? What the fuck, plot hole-filled movie? Ten minutes left.

So more wandering around the store with a knife, holy God please let this end soon, and somebody’s squealing for help. It’s her boyfriend(?), but not really, just Assistant Man having a bit of fun on the job.

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Edgar Bergen’s act became unrelentingly dark as time went on.

She tries to stab him, but he grabs the sharp end of the knife with his goddamn bare hand and waves the head around to mock her. He takes a sharp turn onto Demented Street as he cheerfully starts gallivanting towards her. Then Craig the Creep shows up(?) again and gives some exposition I can’t hear. It doesn’t matter because he’s seemingly beaten to death by Assistant Man with the severed head before any of that goes anywhere.

OK: home stretch. Jennifer finally figures out how windows work and gets out of there. But empty boxes make her stumble towards her jeep, and the other female clerk’s dead body is in her car(?). Then she’s dragged under the car by Assistant Man. He’s about to stab her, but she has a knife(?) and stabs him in the chest. He falls over, dead? But I’m waiting for him to not be dead. Because he’s probably not dead yet. Because it’s a horror movie.

She runs over to a conveniently placed pay phone and calls the cops. But then Assistant Man bursts through the window because of course he’s not dead. He starts rocking the phone booth, tips it over, and he climbs into it to kill her. But Creep Craig (who’s also not dead, somehow) starts chopping away at him, grossly cleaving into his hand and neck and shoulder and it’s pretty gross.

Soooooooo Craig’s the hero? Guess I was right at the beginning. So the psychotic, murderous stalker is the hero. Way to go, movie. Anyway, we hear police sirens and Craig now looks like the murderer, what with the bloody cleaver in his hand and all. The cops cuff the both of them because they’re cops, Assistant Man gurgles back to life to tell the police that the two of them were the murderers before dying, and he laughs and laughs and laughs.

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Detective Dipshit and Sergeant Asshole are on the case!

So police brutality and the villain winning is how this movie ends. How unpleasant. The credits start and take their sweet time to roll, just like the rest of the movie. Yikes.

Conclusions

This movie had a lot of problems. I can see why it’s obscure: it sucks. It was poorly paced, poorly acted, poorly written, and aside from a few good practical effects, was one of the lamest “horror” movies I’ve ever seen. If I wasn’t writing this film up for this goofy little endeavor, I would have turned it off within the first half hour.

Which brings up another point: why was this movie produced in the first place? With no-name stars, a no-name director, and an obviously shoddy script, there can be only one reason: The director was friends with Sam “Evil Dead” Raimi. That was enough to scrape together a few hundred thousand dollars and his name attached as a producer to get this Z-grade horror movie made.

And I’m perfectly OK with my horror films being kind of shitty: their horrible production values usually only add to the horror of the film. But this was low-rent garbage with an unoriginal premise and a terrible execution. I was intrigued because I found it on YouTube and was touted as a “rare” horror film. But sometimes things are rare for good reason, and this film argues that position in every frame.

Meanwhile, I also don’t like it because I’m a fan of grocery stores and working in them. Even though I’ve left that kind of work behind long ago, it was still one of the more enjoyable fields I’ve professionally worked in. I liked the work, the people, and the calm atmosphere of a grocery store. And if you’re going to set a horror film in a grocery store, you could use the setting a little more evocatively than this film did. There’s a lot of crazy, dangerous shit around every corner of a grocery store. Too bad the director seemed to never have set foot in one before.

Rating

Awful garbage. Put it in the blue bins in the back with the rest of the rotten food. Avoid like you would an expired loaf of bread. ¼ of one Hook Face out of four . Just the worst.

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Categories: film, horror, humor

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