“No Good Deed” Review

Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson, this horror-thriller is about a mother who lets a violent sociopath into her home under the guise that he is a car accident victim. As the night progresses on, his true motivations are revealed and the mother is left to fear for herself and her children’s lives. Sam Miller, known for his TV work, directs, and the film stylistically feels like it belongs on television, rather than the big screen.

Subtlety is one thing that this film lacks. No Good Deed wastes no time in letting you know that Idris Elba’s character is unstable, and will give you audio and visual cues as to when he’ll do something dangerous. As much as the script tries, it never goes much beyond portraying a blatant cliché of what it imagines being a sociopath is like. Idris Elba gives a good performance though, and I feel like his character would be more convincing with some different editing choices. With the exception of Taraji P. Henson’s Terri though, none of the other characters feel like real people; they all serve as plot devices.

The story is all very predictable and one-note. Since the film is taken from a cookie-cutter formula, you anticipate everything that happens before it happens, completely derailing any intended tension. There is one plot twist near the end of the film that provides a nice change of pace, but the more you think about it, the less sense it makes. No Good Deed is really a film that you have to shut off your brain for.

As a PG-13 horror-thriller, most of the horror is from cheap jump-scares, and most of the tension is from Idris Elba not being in frame when the camera cuts back to him. Not that an R rating would have improved the movie much, but everything in the film seems a bit toned down. There’s about a half-hour in the middle of the movie where it feels like it’s building towards something, but the film never gets there, and relies on the same caliber scares throughout.

I can’t hate this film though. It just doesn’t last long enough to be painful. It’s nothing that will stick with you – in fact, you’ll probably forget about the movie while you’re watching it, but it’s incredibly adequate. It’s reasonably entertaining, and that’s all it aims to be. If you don’t go into the film with expectations that it’ll be anything exceptional, I don’t think you’ll be hugely disappointed. 5/10.

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