Intensity (film)

Intensity is a 1997 made-for-TV psychological thriller mini-series based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Dean Koontz, starring John C. McGinley, Molly Parker, Piper Laurie, and Tori Paul. It originally aired in the United States on the Fox Network.

Dean Koontz's Intensity DVD.jpg
DVD cover of the miniseries showing John C. McGinley as Edgler Vess
Directed byYves Simoneau
Produced byPreston Fischer
Dean R. Koontz
Tom Patricia
Deborah Edell Underwood
Written byStephen Tolkin
Based onIntensity by Dean Koontz
StarringPiper Laurie
Molly Parker
John C. McGinley
Tori Paul
Music byGeorge S. Clinton
CinematographyDavid Franco
Edited byMichael Ornstein
Distributed byColumbia TriStar Domestic Television
Fox Television
Sony Pictures Television
Release date
  • August 5, 1997 (1997-08-05)
Running time
186 minutes
CountryUnited States


Chyna Shepherd accompanies her friend Laura Templeton to her house for Thanksgiving dinner. A serial killer named Edgler Vess invades the house and kills Laura and her parents, as Chyna hides in the killer's vehicle. When Vess stops at a gas station, Chyna escapes and asks the two attendants to call the police.

Before she has time to explain, Vess returns and murders the two workers with a shotgun. Chyna then learns that he is holding a 14-year-old girl named Ariel hostage in his basement. She becomes determined to save Ariel and follows Vess back to his home. On the road she runs into a woman named Miriam and asks her to call the police. The woman does not realize that Chyna is serious about the murders until she sees the two dead bodies back at the gas station.

Unfortunately, she is hysterical on the phone with the police, telling them that they 'need to save Chyna and Ariel,' which the police interpret as the ramblings of a lunatic. Upon trying to fall back to sleep, the policeman, Ethan Trevaine, remembers the name Ariel from a missing person's case and starts investigating. Trevaine starts to find clues on what type of vehicle the killer was driving, and what Miriam was talking about earlier.

Meanwhile, the car Chyna is driving runs out of gas so she leaves it in the middle of the road, forcing Vess to stop and push it out of the way. While he does so, Chyna runs back into his trailer and hides, unknowingly leaving foot prints. Intrigued, Vess decides to have some fun and pretend he does not know she is there. He then kills Miriam when she tries to run him off the road and save Chyna. When they arrive at his home, Chyna attempts to free Ariel from a fortified room but is attacked and subdued by Vess. As a captive, Chyna speaks with Vess and has flashbacks to her traumatic childhood: as a little girl, she witnessed her disturbed, abusive mother and her boyfriend kill her grandparents. In turn, Vess reveals his obsession with the "intensity" of any particular experience and declares his intention to kill both her and Ariel, but offers Chyna a slightly more merciful death if she agrees to aid him in mentally torturing Ariel out of her catatonia.

When Vess finally leaves for work, Chyna seizes the opportunity to free herself and Ariel. After dressing in Vess's dog-training gear and spraying ammonia in the eyes of his bloodthirsty Dobermans, Chyna attempts to flee with Ariel in Vess's mobile home, but unwittingly triggers an alarm that causes him to return home early.

Before they can make their escape, an unmarked vehicle and a police car arrive. Although Chyna believes Vess to be in the unmarked vehicle driven by Trevaine, it is revealed that Vess is actually a State Trooper who emerges from the police car and opens fire on Trevaine, killing him before turning his attention to the mobile home. Chyna and Ariel manage to escape back to Vess's house, where Chyna ultimately gets the better of Vess. She sets him on fire, locks him in Ariel's old room, and watches as he burns to death.

In the aftermath, Chyna visits Ariel in a psychiatric hospital but is denied custody of her in a hearing; she is told that the young girl will require extensive therapy to recover from her trauma. As Chyna prepares to leave without her, Ariel, speaking for the first time, suddenly calls out to her the name "Badger", a character from a story Chyna had told her about to help bring her courage while escaping from Vess. The two embrace, and it is implied that Chyna's custody of Ariel was granted.


The miniseries was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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