The Movie Waffler New Release Review - BAD SAMARITAN | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - BAD SAMARITAN

bad samaritan review
A pair of burglars stumble upon the lair of a psychopath.

Review by Musanna Ahmed

Directed by: Dean Devlin

Starring: David Tennant, Robert Sheehan, Kerry Condon, Jacqueline Byers

bad samaritan poster

Sometimes, it’s the slow paced films that are considered boring because of their inability to stimulate audiences before the final act (if at all). Other times, it’s the polar opposite - when a film is so over the top that it numbs you. You’re left cold and bored. That’s the case with Bad Samaritan.

Starting off with a preposterously overblown scene, it doesn’t let up in its cinematic shrieking. Said scene features a young boy whipping a horse and shooting it dead while his poor mother wails for him to stop. It’s a sign of the awfulness for the rest of the film, especially in its continuous overbearing score, which shouts loudly at you to feel tense to the extent that the intended effect is bypassed.

bad samaritan

The young boy is Cale Erendreich, who grows up to become rich, bumptious and still bloodthirsty. Before we meet him, we’re introduced to our protagonist, starving artist and valet Sean Falco. He works alongside friend and partner-in-crime Derek Sandoval. The crime in question is robbing the wealthy customers of the restaurant they valet for, based on the sort of car they pull up in, by taking the keys they’re entrusted with and using the GPS systems to find their houses.

Cale is one such customer except he’s extraordinary because, when breaking into his house, Sean finds a girl chained up "like a horse," the simile pounding the audience over the head if it wasn’t clear enough. From there it becomes a cat-and-mouse thriller as Sean makes it his mission to save the girl with help from the police, Derek and some weapons. Likewise, Cale has a stash of weapons and a couple of Dexter-like rooms where he can use them.

bad samaritan

It’s hard to compare Cale to Dexter Morgan, or say much more about any character in Bad Samaritan, because the characters are so poorly defined. They have characteristics but nothing to add up to a whole. The Dexter-like rooms? They serve no purpose beyond pointing out that he’s psychotic, if we hadn’t already figured that out. Sean’s a starving artist? His art fades into obscurity before 15 minutes are up. There are no subtleties or further affirmations for their identity so they quickly become a bunch of generic thieves and bad guys. Bad Samaritan gives us no reason to care about anyone or anything happening at all.

The performers - Robert Sheehan, David Tennant and Kerry Condon - try their best as Sean, Cale and the kidnapped woman Katie, respectively, but it’s impossible to put 10 kilos of shit in a five-kilo bag. Tennant in particular could have made Cale memorable if he had no lines to say because his bulging eyes during his silent glares give him some credibility as a psychopath. When he’s shouting, however, all that credibility is lost. Had Sheehan not been screwed out of a role in Fear the Walking Dead then he might not have had time to star in Bad Samaritan. No matter how bad FTWD has become, it’s still more rewarding than something this bad.

bad samaritan

The same trappings of failure that bad horror movies fall into, Bad Samaritan can’t escape from either. There are too many last-minute conveniences that dissipate the tension of who will kill and be killed. The slow rotation of the camera telegraphs jump scares long in advance, as if the director wanted people to remain in their seats for these moments. Lots of extremely illogical plot points - like how Cale is able to essentially flip his house to look squeaky clean in a heartbeat, or the insane plot armour worn by some of the characters - make it difficult to suspend disbelief because you’re just left bewildered at every turn.

It’s sort of like a bad Don’t Breathe, except director Dean Devlin doesn’t employ half the ingenuity that Fede Alvarez displayed in his craft. The establishing shot of the entire house in Don’t Breathe alone offers more in terms of both art and entertainment than anything in this dunderheaded movie. Maybe a more appropriate title for Bad Samaritan would be 'Don’t Watch'.

Bad Samaritan is in UK cinemas August 24th.