Release Date: September 11, 2015
Director: David M. Rosenthal
Writer: Tyger Williams
Cast: Sanaa Lathan, Michael Ealy, Morris Chesnut, L. Scott Caldwell, Charles S. Dutton, John Getz, Tess Harper, Kathryn Morris, Rutina Wesley, Holt McCallany, Jessica Parker Kennedy, David Starzyk, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Wilmer Calderon, Gordon Clapp, Duncan Joiner, Julia Valentine Larson, Patrick Daniel Lyndsey Doolen, Michael Andrew Baker.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 100 minutes
Production Company: Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Releasing
I had my fears going in, thinking this movie would be the same clichéd, wannabe thriller that we all have come to know. Fortunately this wasn’t completely the case, as the movie had a few surprises up its sleeve. As many people would assume, it’s the type of film that makes you yell at the screen, putting you right in the victim’s position. This can be a ton of fun with an engaged audience, but only if this is maintained at a respectable level. A lot can also be learned here from both men and women’s perspective, which is much appreciated. I now have questioned my own security towards unwanted guests whom I may encounter in the future. The movie doesn’t beat you over the head, but sparks an interesting thought process. I only wish the story could’ve been as great, but the actors’ performance saves the day.
These characters happened to be played by some of my favorites in the movie industry. Leah (Sanaa Lathan) and Dave (Morris Chestnut) are a healthy couple appearing as happy as can be. Leah is a hard working woman and Dave is a supporting husband. He seems like a dream come true, and a man whom any woman would want. There isn’t much to be said about his character though, which is a waste for such a great actor. Leah is extremely impatient, but knows her faults well. This acknowledgment is commendable which makes you root for her success. It’s also worth noting the presence of Detective Hansen (Holt McCalleny) as a man you want to be on your side. I walked out nodding my head, giving him my seal of approval. Carter’s (Michael Ealy) role steals the show as it should, it being the titular character. I’ve never seen Mr. Ealy in such a role, and it puts him on a pedestal. If he isn’t recognized as a talented professional for his acting in his movie, it would be an unforgivable sin. He’s extremely intelligent and knows the law better than his own birthday. The way he cuts his eyes is very disconcerting and completely necessary to sell his psychosis. It’s interesting how he plays the system to his advantage, knowing every trick of the trade. A portion of his back story was revealed too quickly, which diluted the mystery surrounding him. His story took a full circle, but would’ve been more impactful, if it took it’s time to be revealed. He’s charming, sweet, strong, and of course seems like ‘The Perfect Guy’, but once his true character is revealed it clearly is too late.
When his first appears on screen, it is far too early and does nothing for the plot. The story takes a lot longer than expected to pick up speed, and becomes a bore. If the film is divided into three acts, I can say the first part is the worst. The transition between the scenes was long and awkward, causing one to feel a punch in the chest. It didn’t feel good: I turned in my seat looking for comfort and to find a reason to enjoy the action on screen. I don’t think director David M. Rosenthal learned about the most important aspect of storytelling—to show and not tell. The dialogue was weak at points and was an obvious exposition. In all honesty, the movie felt rushed, not laying the necessary ground work for substance and a worthy pay off. In short, the story is just about a happy couple that breaks up over a misunderstanding, then the new guy enters their life, and then the misery begins. I can’t even tell if the timeline was over eight weeks or six months, and I feel that’s important in any film.
Things didn’t get going until Carter went crazy, always snapping over the smallest thing. I then found myself smiling getting everything I wanted, and something more. Although, I don’t agree with his behavior, I was thrilled to watch his performance. The way he took advantage was sickening; however, this made for a great experience. I like it when a movie makes you think about the way you live your life. While most would consider it common sense, it isn’t the best to let strangers know the secrets of your home. I’m not calling Leah’s character dumb, but she could’ve made some better decisions. The film is also full of clichés, but this doesn’t ruin the progress of the film. What kind of people do not call 911 in the time of danger, thinking that staring at the door will make the baddie go away? Starting at a low point, the film eventually picks up its pace. It gets better and better as each minute passes, then takes a turn for reasons that are unknown. I’m disappointed with a decision that the writer made which nearly ruined the film. There was no point to it and it was the exact opposite of what an average movie-goer would want. The shock value it tried to convey completely misfired, and I wished it never happened.
I looked up the director’s work; I’ve never seen his films before. That’s probably due to their quality and the lack of word of mouth. I bring him up for one reason—the film’s pace. Also, at times, it seems like the film’s budget is similar to any other large production, but then at other times, the movie feels like a low grade one. It’s unbalanced to say the least, and a mixed bag to say the most. The story isn’t original, and that isn’t even the problem. Trying to reinvent the wheel can sometimes work, but here he tries and fails. It’s not hard to tell a happy story, but he couldn’t do that for some reason. The marketed twist was never found, and the movie only leaves you with a head full of questions making you wonder why. I’m puzzled at the attempt made, as it wasn’t a good one. His job shouldn’t have been as difficult as his film made it seem.
Overall, the film is just OK, but it could’ve easily been better. It’s the terrible pacing and the decisions made by the characters that I blame the writer and director for. I’m tired of yet another noisy-neighbor and empty-garages plot, knowing that the villain is just around the corner. It’s old and non-refreshing, making you roll your eyes over and over again. The friends Leah had were also a waste of time. I sensed no real friendship there, with their interactions feeling forced. Morris Chestnut shined bright as he confronted Ealy’s character, but he didn’t get the amount of screen time he deserved. Also, characters not pulling the trigger when needed is as frustrating as constipation. It is only Ealy’s performance that saves the movie, stops it from being a total disaster. I wanted more from this movie, and it’s sad that it didn’t happen; especially because it nearly had all the necessary pieces to be a success. However, it may still have some redeeming qualities, which you may love more than me.