Deadly Intent (2016)

Deadly Intent Movie Poster - a child looks intensely at the camera while holding a toy soldier. Text reads: "Don't let him into your head."

A single mother believes her young son is behind a series of accidents. But is the boy really acting out violently after the death of his soldier father, or is Bryony’s abusive ex-husband trying hurt them from beyond the grave?

Short Review

Deadly Intent is an intriguing, character-driven ghost story with solid acting and directing. The plot is believable and interesting from the start and the ending lives up to its promise. The atmosphere is a little more “afternoon drama” than “scare you witless”, but it’s well worth a look if you enjoy well written, intelligent horror.

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Ghost stories are difficult to write well. Setting up the atmosphere and background to the haunting takes time, and doing so while keeping the audience interested requires genuinely intriguing characters with lives that go beyond what’s shown. Deadly Intent gets the balance just right. Bryony and James, whose lives are being turned upside down, have a complicated, delicate relationship. They’re both trying to reconstruct their lives after a tragedy, and despite the abuse that Bryony suffered at the hands of her late ex-husband, it’s clear that she’s been hit hard by his death.

After a flood that Bryony believes James caused deliberately, the pair are forced to flee to her parents’ house in the country, which they’ve left in the hands of Bryony’s sister, Lisa, while they’re away on holiday. But it’s clear that a change of scenery isn’t about to stop what’s happening, with James almost running out into a busy road as soon as they arrive, after claiming to see his dad standing there. Bryony tries to be patient with him, but it’s clear her nerves are wearing thin, and their relationship becomes more and more strained.

Lisa, on the other hand, provides an unlikely calming influence. With an interest in the supernatural and unexplained, it would be easy to see her in the agitator role, but instead she quickly realises that James might not be entirely to blame for the events going on around them and takes him under her wing, giving Bryony some needed respite. Together, James and Lisa slowly convince Bryony that there’s more than simple bad behaviour at play, leading towards an explosive climax.

Deadly Intent is a well put together indie movie with a cast and crew that clearly knew what they were doing. The story is expertly told, the directing is excellent and the acting is believable. Even the special effects – though rare – are competently done. The only let down is in terms of atmosphere, which somehow never quite builds in the way you’d expect. The result is a kind of “afternoon drama” feel to the proceedings. You could happily grab a cup of tea and a few biscuits and watch “Deadly Intent” with an elderly relative – apart from a bit of bad language and the briefest momentary sliver of mild nudity, it’s really easy viewing.

Overall, I really enjoyed Deadly Intent and would recommend it. As ghost stories go, its reliance on plot and characters over jump scares is a welcome change from Hollywood’s recent offerings, and although it’s not going to give you sleepless nights, it will leave you thinking it was an hour and a half well spent.

The Good

  • Acting, directing and storytelling are all on point
  • Character and plot are given precedence over jump scares
  • Won’t give you sleepless nights

The Bad

  • Won’t give you sleepless nights
  • The “afternoon drama” atmosphere isn’t for everyone
  • Not always clear when flashbacks are starting or ending

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