Directed by Rebekah Fortune, Deadly Intent sees Bryony (Rebecca Reaney) as a recent widow trying to rebuild her life with her young son, James (Gus Barry). Her husband, Steve (Peter Lloyd) was a soldier serving aboard & from the opening frames you’re led to believe he may have died in combat.
James misses his father dearly & is incredibly resentful to his mother, seeming to blame her for his death. Bryony, dealing with her own grief, doesn’t fully understand what her son is going through & figures that he just has to accept that his father is dead.
The pair are at constant loggerheads so when things start to happen around the house naturally it’s James who gets the blame (taps being left on, a bookcase being knocked over etc.). It’s should be mysterious but the film doesn’t want to hang around instead making it fairly obvious early on that the boy isn’t to blame.
After the house gets flooded they go to stay with Bryony’s younger sister, Lisa (Lara Lemon) who begins to suspect that James might be inadvertently causing these mishaps as they only seem to occur when he is angry. Bryony is dismissive at first but even she eventually has to accept that not everything is right with James once he claims to have seen his dead father.
Is it James just projecting his frustrations & anger or is there something much more sinister going on?
I wanted to love Deadly Intent having loved The Babadook; the similarities at first are uncanny. Unfortunately where the latter got it right, the former gets it wrong. Starting with the actors; Rebecca Reaney does a great job as a mother wanting to get on with her life but not understanding her son’s needs. At first she seems cold & callous regarding her husband’s death but as the film progresses you see that she has good reason. This development is played out in flashbacks & really helps you understand her character better.
James’ animosity towards his mother is confusing at first but again made much clearer by the end. His sullen behaviour gets tiresome by the midpoint of the movie & the sudden 180 turn that occurs doesn’t sit well.
Peter Lloyd as a soldier suffering from the effects of war come across really well as we see him get more & more aggressive but his relationship with his son seems false & forced.
The issues with Deadly Intent doesn’t lie with the actors, it lies with its forced attempts at horror. This is not a scary film, it uses tried tropes to try & create tension & its attempts to lead you down a different path fail because of how blunt early scenes are.
The mystery as to why soldier Steve would be haunting them should be interesting but it fails to deliver in the finale. Arguably the most disappointing part of the film is the final few minutes, an ending that any seasoned horror fan will see coming a mile away.
The movie lacks subtly, it’s in your face & wastes much better opportunities to tell a far more interesting story. Instead we get a lacklustre ghost story that thinks its way scarier then it actually is.