Home invasion movies scare me simply because they literally hit home; they don’t involve a ghost, or a possessed girl or even a night where all crime is legal. It’s a simple, frightening premise of fear in your safe place. Unfortunately, recent home invasion flicks have not only been scarce, but also underwhelming, taking less sinister routes to justify the invasion in the first place, which diminishes the scares involved quite a lot. It’s a dying genre that needs a really good revival.
Enter “No Good Deed,” the potential answer to my wishes. With talented producer Will Packer at the center, it already snagged my attention. From there, let’s add Academy Award Nominee Taraji P. Henson and Golden Globe Winner Idris Elba, some of the best working actors in Hollywood today, and what we should get is a truly magnificent piece of thriller filmmaking, right?
Not quite, but close enough.
“No Good Deed” brings us to the life of Colin Evans (Elba), a malignant narcissist convicted on murder charges and recently denied parole. After killing his guards, escaping, and handling some personal business, Evans finds himself in a car accident and stumbling to the house of Terri Granger (Henson), a devoted mother of two alone on a rainy night while her husband is away. From there, Evans begins his sociopathic, violent and terrifying game against Terri and her family.
Except it isn’t terrifying; in fact, it’s quite predictable. The film’s story, save for one twist that at least keeps things interesting, seems to come straight from a long list of genre clichés that don’t really instill much fear, I could practically see some of them coming. Which would make you ask, why would I still recommend this film if it isn’t that scary?
Acting. Simple as that. The performance from Elba is a nice change of pace from the British-born actor, and the dark and his sinister performance actually transcends the clichés to actually create a fairly frightening character, even if the things he does aren’t exactly scary. Henson steals the show as the mother of two intensely determined to save her children and herself from Evans. Henson’s intensity is spectacular, with the balancing scales of fear and rage, her performance is reason alone to see this movie.
There isn’t anything inherently wrong with “No Good Deed,” though there isn’t anything spectacularly right with it beyond the acting. The direction is serviceable, and the screenplay, albeit predictable, is solid enough. Luckily, if you do end up hating the film, it’s short enough to get through at only 84 minutes. Nothing about this movie screams classic, but nothing screams failure either. This film can be compared to 2009’s “Obsessed” starring Beyoncé (also starring Elba and produced by Packer), and while it does share the same feel and predictability, it differs enough to warrant a meager recommendation on its own merits. Without the cast involved, this would be a much lesser film than it is, but luckily, the macabre performance from Elba and the intensity of Henson are enough to make “No Good Deed” a sorta good movie, best experienced in a packed theater.
Directed by: Sam Miller
Starring: Idris Elba, Taraji P. Henson, Leslie Bibb, Kate Del Castillo and Henry Simmons
Runtime: 84 minutes
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, menace, terror and for language.
Screen Gems presents, a Will Packer Productions production, “No Good Deed”