No Good Deed

Directed By: Sam Miller

Starring: Idris Elba, Taraji P. Henson, Leslie Bibb, Kate del Castillo, and Henry Simmons

I miss slasher flicks.  Aside from You're Next a little more than a year ago, we haven't had too many good ones in the last several years.  It's all the paranormal, supernatural stuff that dominates nowadays.  I prefer my antagonists to be a little more interesting like Jason Voorhees or Ghostface.  That being said, I'll take it where I can get it these days, or so I thought.  On this fateful weekend, we indeed do have a variation of a slasher flick arriving at the box office in Sam Miller's No Good Deed.  However, it just completely misses the mark.

Colin Evans (Idris Elba) was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for killing a man in a bar fight in the name of his fiancée Alexis (Kate del Castillo).  After having served five years in prison for the crime, he stands in front of the parole board today to prove that he is a corrected man.  He's able to convince four board members that this is the case, but one makes it clear that he believes Colin to be a malignant narcissist with a talent for lying.  Unfortunately for Colin, release requires a unanimous vote.  On his way back to prison until at least his next parole hearing, Colin opts to create his own get-out-of-jail free card in a bloody fashion.  Killing the prison guards tending to him, Colin escapes.  His first stop is to see his one-time love Alexis.

Having given up her legal career to become a full-time stay-at-home mother of two, Terri (Taraji P. Henson) now spends her days wearing bibs and changing diapers.  It doesn't help that her husband Jeffery (Henry Simmons) isn't showing her too much love these days.  It also doesn't help that Jeffery is leaving Terri at home tonight to take his father on a golf trip for his birthday.  Recognizing a friend in desperate need of some adult time, Terri's best friend Meg (Leslie Bibb) agrees to come over for a girls' night in.  When she arrives at Terri’s home at 17 Creston Lane, Meg is surprised to find that her good friend already has some adult company on this stormy night, that of escaped convict Colin Evans.  The malignant narcissist Evans claims to have been stranded on the side of the road in an accident.  Little do either of these two women realize the grave danger they are currently facing.

No good deed goes unpunished.  No act of charity goes unresented.  No good deed goes unpunished.  That's Sam Miller's new creed.  His road of good intentions led where such roads always lead.  No good deed goes unpunished.  While the film features halfway decent performances from its stars Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson, Miller offers us a stale premise that prevents No Good Deed from ever getting off the ground.  In this day in age with all the violence and malice in the world, is it believable that any mother would let a stranger into her home on a stormy night because he needs to make a phone call?  This is the digital age, and everyone has a smartphone.  Really, this premise is anything but plausible.  In fact, it's the reason Miller's movie is just one more cinematic disaster I can add to my generous supply.

What really irks me about No Good Deed is that the 84 minute story drags time and time again.  The narrative is chock full of clumsy trappings.  For instance, there are countless times in the film when Henson's character Terri accosts Elba's character Colin with blunt and sharp objects alike.  Fighting back is expected and encouraged in a film like this.  That being said, her character repeatedly strikes Colin and then gives her nemesis sufficient time to recover and terrorize her yet again, thus creating a pointless game of cat and mouse.  When Colin fools Terri once by getting back up, shame on him.  When he fools her twice, shame on Sam Miller and his screenwriter Aimée Lagos.

With a killer who just won't stay down no matter what's thrown his way and some creepy music to accompany him, No Good Deed tries to channel the best of the slasher flicks of the 80’s and 90’s.  The film fails miserably in this respect.  Simultaneously disappointed and perturbed, I have to give Sam Miller's thriller a 0.09% rating.  Have a few glasses of Scotch with this one.