It’s always nice when you can follow up and report back on the news. Earlier this week, Katelyn gave you the heads up about Bad Samaritan, David Tennant’s upcoming new film. I’m here to encourage you to check those local listings and hit a theater this opening weekend.
Because I’ve seen Bad Samaritan and it’s a new facet of David Tennant’s villainous skills and abilities!
There’s Always a Bigger Bad Guy
From the first frame to the finale, this builds a believable story. You’ll absolutely catch yourself hesitating before handing your keys to a valet again.
It’s a simple idea. Scope out customers at an upscale restaurant who valet their cars. Go to their homes while they dine and rob them. It’s easy work if you can get it. At least that’s what friends and burgling duo Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan) and Derek Sandoval (Carlito Olivero) think.
However, even a simple scam can get complicated. When this pair encounter the assholish Cale Erendreich (David Tennant) and his gleaming Maserati, it looks like they’ve hit the mother lode. Sean speeds away towards his house (reason number two not to valet, your car’s GPS will take them directly to your front door).
After a quick check through the mail yields dividends, Sean breaks the cardinal rule of a good scheme. He gets greedy. He picks a lock expecting to find items worth stealing and instead encounters a woman (Kerry Condon) chained and strapped into a chair bolted to the floor.
In a series of tension-building moments, Sean’s ultimately forced to leave her behind. It’s all ruthlessly reasonable and terribly possible. Sean’s stumbled onto a serial killer and his life will never be the same. I mean, what would you do if you went to steal a man’s collectibles and found his “murder room” instead?
And this is where the trailer footage ends, and the story digs in.
It’s Everything You Expect in a Horror Film Plus David Tennant
With ever-building tension and a quick-witted application of the obvious in unexpected ways, Brandon Boyce’s script delivers a story that very much lives in the here and now. The film builds and layers its suspense with enough technological savvy to keep you forever checking your privacy settings and changing your passwords. It’s a brilliant tactic and works to build tension and make the plot hold.
The pace is nonstop. The jump scares are properly placed but still manage to be jarring enough to reel you into the story further. The secondary characters feed the main narratives and help develop believable scenarios to anchor the plot in the rationally relatable.
The downside is there are openings to tighten the connection between the main characters and the secondary actors that aren’t utilized. It keeps this film from truly being outside the box. It didn’t, however, take away from either the story or enjoyment of what really works in this film.
Bad Samaritan never tries to do too much or to overcomplicate its plot. There are jump scares, flashes of viciousness, and unsettling encounters all perfectly in service of moving this story forward. Again, there are moments when the story and/or action could’ve elevated beyond the predictable, but doesn’t. There’s plenty to connect with and just enough ridiculousness to keep things interesting.
There’s decent backstory to explain why a delightful Irishman, with a great girlfriend (Riley Seabrook) and future, moonlights as a burglar. Watching what happens to him in the face of his wild attempts to make up for leaving her behind is a masterful lesson in what seeing your life FUBARed truly means.
Robert Sheehan and Carlito Olivero have opposite energies that work well together. Their performances create characters that are simultaneously semi-street smart yet complete bumbling idiots. You’ll wonder on more than one occasion how they’ve managed to avoid getting caught before now.
Dean Devlin’s direction weaves visual cues and timely breadcrumbs to unravel the deeds of a charming sociopath always two steps from being completely unhinged. David Tennant has a way with unconventional characters. His Cale is ruthlessly intelligent and utterly disturbed. Tennant plays this role with such charm that watching his crazy sit comfortably next to his approachable rich dude will have you side-eyeing every classy-looking white man you encounter.
There’s one aspect of Bad Samaritan that deviates from the horror norm though.
The Female Characters
Riley: She’s the girlfriend. This is a horror/thriller. Shit doesn’t go well for her. Most of Riley’s storyline is petty standard stuff. However, there’s one key moment where this character does what any self-respecting woman would but rarely gets to in a horror movie. You’ll know it when it happens and you will absolutely approve. This moment keeps Riley from being a vehicle to just push Sean’s story forwards. Being honest, that’s what the character is here for and Jacqueline Byers does a good job of giving her life. It’s not much, but when most females in horror/thrillers don’t even have a name, I’ll take the baby steps.
Kerry: The female “victim” isn’t just someone that all of this is “happening to”. She’s not merely a mirror upon which the villain’s perfidy (I was feeling fancy when I took notes) reflects. Her suffering and fear are tangible. Watching her hold it together as Cale falls deeper into his crazy is riveting. At the height of the film, she delivers the best line of the entire movie.
At the WonderCon 2018 panel, writer Brandon Boyce promised a “second act” with a villain, like Othello’s Iago, systematically breaking down this kid over the rest of the movie. And under Dean Devlin‘s direction, the final product is more than just a David Tennant showcase.
Are you going to see Bad Samaritan this weekend? Let us know what you think in the comments!