In a summer dominated by ape warriors, transforming robots and wisecracking space raccoons, it’s difficult for low-budget non-effects-driven films to make a dent at the box office. And yet Screen Gems’ upcoming thriller “No Good Deed” hopes to accomplish just that. Arriving at the tail-end of the season, this story of a mother defending her home against an escaped convict includes a number of elements that could distinguish it from the pack. Invading theaters on September 12, here’s why “No Good Deed” could be a very late summer sleeper.
#1 Idris Elba
Fresh from a third Emmy nomination for his work on “Luther,” Golden Globe-winner Elba stars as a charismatic stranger who terrorizes a family after charming his way inside their suburban house. Drawing on the suave menace that made his breakout role on HBO’s “The Wire” so memorable, the 41-year old actor personifies all the villainous qualities that audiences love to hate. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also been named one of People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive.
#2 It’s a female-led thriller
Written by Aimee Lagos and starring Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson as a strong, resourceful woman confronting a smooth-talking criminal, “No Good Deed” is an all-too-rare thriller that targets female viewers as much as, if not more than, males. Interviewed on Fox TV Atlanta, Henson, who also co-executive produced, describes it as “very much a girl-power film.”
#3 High-grossing black films
Based on the continued success of films like “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “The Best Man Holiday,” “Ride Along” and the “Think Like a Man” series, it’s time to retire the cliche “overperforming” when describing movies with predominantly black casts. “No Good Deed” could join the group if it connects with audiences.
#5 The fright factor
Tapping into every suburbanite’s worst nightmare, the home invasion subgenre is a film category (emphasis on “gory”) that’s never gone out of style. From the 1955 classic “The Desperate Hours” to the horrific 2008 chiller “The Strangers,” audiences have shown a primal fascination with lethal houseguests. If “No Good Deed” director Sam Miller avoids the nihilism of “Funny Games” in favor of the tension of “Panic Room” he may scare up some killer word of mouth.
#6 It’s PG-13
Unlike last year’s female-driven thrillers “The Call” and “Oculus,” the producers of “No Good Deed” wisely avoided an R rating by trimming a fraction of the film’s onscreen violence. The commercially-friendly PG-13 rating allows the suspenser to reach teens and adults who might otherwise be turned off by ultraviolent content.
#6 Producer William Packer
The marketing campaign for “No Good Deed” prominently advertises that it’s from Will Packer, the producer of “Obsessed.” Starring Idris Elba and Beyonce, the modestly budgeted 2009 stalking thriller opened at No. 1 in the U.S. and earned over $73 million worldwide. With four more films debuting in the top spot, Packer has a solid track record at developing successful movies at low cost. A sequel to his hit “Ride Along” is currently filming.
#7 Lack of competition
With no studio films premiering the week prior and only Warner Bros.’ family sequel “Dolphin Tale 2” opening wide opposite it, “No Good Deed” faces minimal competition on its opening weekend.