Bad Samaritan, the latest from director Dean Devlin, is an ambitious thriller that can be truly intense at times. There are moments that will have you on the edge of your seat, manufactured by impressive sound and camera work. The antagonist, Cale Erendreich (David Tennant), is a convincing and terrifying look into the life of a psychopath. Unfortunately, even after all of the positives, there is something lacking that never drives the film home and has the potential to frustrate the audience more than entertain. At best, “Samaritan” is an inconsistent film with flashes of intrigue, but most will not be able to look past the eye-roll inducing moments.
Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan) is a common thief who makes a living off of his valet service customers. The operation, manned by Sean and his best friend Derek (Carlito Olivero), nets them a few valuables a night, all while unsuspecting patrons enjoy their dinner. In a robbery gone horribly wrong, Sean stumbles into a house in which a woman is being held captive, at the hands of presumed serial killer, Cale Frendreich. Faced with a moral dilemma, Sean must figure out a way to save this woman, by confessing what he was doing when he found her. As he deals with incompetent police and a meticulous serial killer, it becomes clear that Sean must take matters into his own hands.
Although suspenseful, the story is mostly uninspired and frustrating. A few of the characters behave inexplicably, begging the audience to groan at the screen rather than be truly vested. However, David Tennant is able to keep “Samaritan” on the right track, keeping the audience intrigued just long enough to witness the lackluster payoff towards the end. Like many movies featuring a psychopath, there is always a sense of wonder; how does a person get to be that way? Tennant’s character deserved much more than he got, and it will go down as a missed opportunity for this film. Robert Sheehan, the film’s “Bad Samaritan”, turns in a passable effort as the lead protagonist, relaying his on-screen frustration and terror to the audience.
Devlin’s dark tone and thrilling sequences are a great addition to this film, but most of the story seems convoluted and forced. A few story arcs are introduced and then never played out, which leaves some open loops by the time the end credits roll. Although hollow enough to not really matter, it would have been nice to have some questions answered. It is hard to be overly critical of the film, because Bad Samaritan is a true horror/thriller and it never tries to be anything else. Many of the criticisms derive from an uninspired screenplay and some frustrating-as-all-hell secondary characters. If you are in to the genre, you’ll probably enjoy the film, otherwise I wouldn’t waste your time or money to see this one.