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Bad Samaritan review: The single white hand that sleeps with the enemy

Bad Samaritan
The TARDIS is looking a lot scarier these days.

Bad Samaritan reminds me of the glory days of ‘90s thrillers, like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and Single White Female. Think about it, those were the most messed up premises, but they got A-list actors to play them straight.

A woman poses as a nanny to get revenge on the woman who reported her husband for sexual assault? A roommate tries to be your clone and screw your boyfriend? Those were mainstream Hollywood movies, and Bad Samaritan has a doozy.

Bad Samaritan
Sean (Robert Sheehan) doesn’t look like such a bad samaritan, but just you wait.

Sean (Robert Sheehan) and Derek (Carlito Olivero) are freelance valets. While you’re dining at a restaurant, they drive your car home and rob you blind. That’s actually pretty scary to think about. All our personal information is in our car we just hand to strangers, but Sean is the hero of the movie.

He hits Cale Erendreich (David Tennant)’s house and stumbles upon his murder room with a live captive (Kerry Condon) waiting.

This is quite a predicament for Sean. Of course he should help the woman. That crime far outweighs his robbery. And he tries to. It’s not like Cale made it easy to unlock those chains and leather straps.

Bad Samaritan
In case you were judging Sean too easily for giving up on the locks.

By the time Cale comes home, it’s not going to do her any good for Sean to be standing there. Cale can surely kill him too. So Sean bolts. He’s a bad samaritan.

Here’s where things get interesting. Cale is read for everything Sean tries to get the cops to discover Cale’s secret. Cale messes with Sean for the rest of the movie. You didn’t think someone with enough OCD to prepare a murder room wouldn’t have backup, did you?

David Tennant
David, try and look scarier for us, okay?

Tennant is frightening. He’s most terrifying in his calmness. Cale is a measured, articulate killer. The way he stalks up to Sean’s car at night is imposing, but he freaks out real good too.

Like the best villains, Cale appears to be a fine upstanding citizen to everyone else. Only Sean and the audience know the truth.

Sheehan is appropriately overwhelmed, both by his own guilt and this insurmountable psychopath who can do anything and make it look like Sean did it.

Bad Samaritan
Sean (David Sheehan) is in way over his head.

Dean Devlin does a good job leaning more Hitchcock than Roland Emmerich, his old partner. There is one explosion but it too is the culmination of a drawn out death trap from which Sean must escape.

He applies Hitchcockian technique to modern technology. It’s Rear Window with smart phones and GPS. The flash of Sean’s cell phone camera reveals the biggest shock.

Tension builds as we hear the sounds of Sean’s breathing, and the crack of his leather seats, emphasized. When Cale gets violent, it is shocking too. The whole movie mostly leaves you wondering, “How the hell is Sean ever going to get out of this?”

Bad Samaritan
Cale Erendreich (David Tennant) just playing games with Sean.

Bad Samaritan is a tad long. It feels like a tight 90 minutes would’ve done the job more effectively. Cale ends up monologuing at the end which seems out of character for someone so meticulous and internal. The monologue does generate some satisfying one-liners though.

Bad Samaritan is a nail biter that will keep you on the edge of your seat, if you’re prone to doing things like biting your nails and sitting on seat edges. Seriously, it’s suspenseful and thrilling with satisfying twists and turns.

Bad Samaritan opens Friday, May 4.

Fred Topel has been a journalist since 1999. Over the decades he’s written for About.com, Hollywood.com, CraveOnline, Rotten Tomatoes and Slashfilm. Fred brings Monsters and... read more


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