After an odd opening (is this a Western? A dream?)—one viewers should not forget, as it does, eventually, figure into the overall narrative—Bad Samaritan struggles to find its tone early. The early sequences play too broadly comedic before settling into a more generically thrilling milieu. Aspiring (read: struggling) photographer Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan) runs afoul of his unfriendly neighborhood psychopath, Cale Erendreich (David Tennant, who will always be my Doctor), after an attempted burglary alerts Sean to the woman (Kerry Condon) Cale has chained to a chair in his office.
Screenwriter Brandon Boyce (Apt Pupil, Wicker Park and a bad horror flick called Venom) attempts and fails to explain away every inconceivable plot point, from Cale’s motive (notice all the horses?) to why Sean does not just let Cale’s captive call the police (he was scared?). Dean Devlin, the Independence Day producer who made a late-career move into directing (Geostorm was his feature debut), lacks the grace to disguise these rather visible narrative stitches.
Tennant makes an effective psycho killer; too bad the material is so beneath him. The entire last act is overshadowed once he disguises himself as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Bad thrillers are a dime a dozen and how direct-to-video survived to become video-on-demand. Diamonds in the rough are out there, but one surmises this flick made it to theaters strictly on the strength of Devlin’s patronage, not its own merits—or lack thereof. Bad Samaritan actually left me wondering whether I had made a bad choice when I picked it over the remake of Overboard.