Review: The Bad Samaritan Must Die! / Cert: 18 / Director: Andrew Leckonby, John Raine / Screenplay: Andrew Leckonby, John Raine/ Starring: Dennis Hewiit, John Raine, Gary Colman / Release Date: Out Now
Say the words 'low-budget indie feature' and we'd expect your next sentence to also contain the words 'zombie', 'found footage' or 'slasher movie'. Not so The Bad Samaritan Must Die!, which eschews zombies, found footage and slasher villains in favour of its titular vigilante, a hulking antihero wearing a trench coat and gimp mask, battering a very British criminal underworld into submission. If nothing else, it has a sense of ambition.
Set in a dystopian 21st century Britain (looking remarkably similar to certain neighbourhoods of this 21st century Britain), The Bad Samaritan Must Die! sees the titular crime fighter unleashing his own peculiar brand of justice upon the grotty scallies of broken Britain. “Have that, you bastard,” he snarls, dropping a television set on a thug's head. A very British cross between The Dark Knight, Super and The Taint, it's like a Batman film as scripted by the writers of Viz Comic - chock full of brutal violence, deliciously inventive swearing and impromptu dance sequences.
John Raine is well cast as the Bad Samaritan, convincing both as a dangerous, violent thug and as a man with serious mental issues. A scene in which he wakes up, crying and ranting in the middle of the night, is startlingly affecting in a manner that few superhero films ever manage. He's downright terrifying at times. The rest of the cast does well, although there is inevitably some dodgier work, given the low budget Raine and co-director Andrew Leckonby are working with. Above all, it's very well written, displaying a loquaciousness and sense of wit sorely lacking from most no-budget features.
There's more going on than just the Bad Samaritan swearing and beating folk up, though. As the Samaritan begins to assemble an army of like-minded, balaclava-wearing thugs, Leckonby and Raine touch upon the darker side of vigilantism rarely seen in mainstream superhero films. These people are wearing hockey pads, and they are dangerous. Hilarious, intelligent and frequently shocking, it reaches places that mainstream cinema could barely hope to touch. If there's a criticism, it's that it's not nearly long enough, running at a scant fifty minutes, finishing on a terrifying note which will leave the audience begging for more.
A fantastic package, the DVD version of The Bad Samaritan Must Die! comes rammed with a whole host of extras, including a comic book, a soundtrack CD and the short film, Repercussions, upon which the movie was based.
Timely and terrifying, this is the best independent production in years and, frankly, better than most mainstream superhero films. Long live the Bad Samaritan.
Extras: Limited edition comic / Soundtrack CD / Documentary / Two shorts