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Is The Intruder on Netflix based on a true story?

The purchase of a dream house becomes a nightmare scenario in this thriller - but is it based on real life?

Published: Thursday, 17th June 2021 at 2:52 pm

Netflix has been the go-to place for true crime content for some time now, with hits such as Believe Me and Murder by the Coast.


So when psychological thriller The Intruder (not to be confused with Channel 5's Intruder) hit the streaming service, fans were understandably curious as to whether it was the latest addition to the on-demand true-crime slate.

The 2019 film sees a young married couple move into their dream country home, when funnily enough there is an intruder, with a previous owner portrayed by Dennis Quaid refusing to let the property go.

Other than a few supernatural references, the plot certainly seems feasible - but what's the truth?

The Intruder sees Dennis Quaid play titular intruder Charlie, who demands young couple Annie (Meagan Good) and Scott (Michael Ealy) not change anything about their new house as his wife passed away there. Charlie then begins to obsessively watch the house, with his creepy behaviour escalating until he eventually breaks into the property armed with a gun.

Writer David Loughery explained in the production notes that the film was not based on a true story, however, but was rather an exaggeration of a common neighbourhood figure.

"In every neighborhood, there’s an older, retired guy who is completely obsessed with his house and his property, and his yard, and he keeps everything in meticulous shape, and it’s a reflection of him," Loughery said. "The house, the property, represents him. And I thought, what if a guy like this had to give up his property? Would he be able to stay away, or would he have to come back and make sure that the people he sold it to were taking care of it in the way that he needed them to take care of it?"

However while not intentional, the plot is reminiscent of an eerie real-life case: 'The Watcher' House, when a couple who purchased their dream New Jersey home were terrorised by threatening letters from a man who referred to himself as 'The Watcher' in 2015. The author of the letters claimed his family had been watching the house for decades, and the identity of 'The Watcher' was never uncovered.

Funnily enough, Netflix is now developing a limited series from Ryan Murphy based on the events, with Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale in the lead roles.

Viewers may also be reminded that this is not Dennis Quaid's first home invasion movie - he previously starred in Cold Creek Manor, in which the roles were reversed and he played a homeowner who is harassed by a previous occupant after uncovering the crimes he committed on the property.

However, Cold Creek Manor was not based on a true story either - clearly, Quaid is carving out a niche in fictional trespasser thrillers.


The Intruder is available to stream now on Netflix. Check out our lists of the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide for something else to watch.


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