Deadly Intent

The story in Deadly Intent is unfortunately a pretty familiar one: a widowed mother raising a young son after the death of her soldier husband. This isn't Becoming again, though -- in this case it's Bryony (Rebecca Reaney) and James (Gus Barry), struggling to move on without husband and father Steve (Peter Lloyd). Grief has made Bryony awkward and snappish towards James, who is in turn increasingly withdrawn and sullen, spending hours alone playing out mock battles with his toy soldiers.

So when heavy furniture starts falling over and water taps are mysteriously turned on, Bryony, unsurprisingly, assumes that it's James acting out. When the water taps stunt floods the bathroom and makes their house temporarily uninhabitable, the two pack up and head for Bryony's parents' home. Sister Lisa (Lara Lemon) is holding down the fort while their parents are away, so there's plenty of room.

Though the presence of Auntie Lisa does soothe James somewhat, the tricks only get more dangerous and more inexplicable. It's soon clear that there's a lot more going on than a boy acting out, but exactly what is another question. Lisa is quick to conclude that something supernatural is happening, but even that raises the fundamental question of the possible intentions of any spirits. As the family's past slowly unfolds through flashbacks, the problems of the present also become more clear -- but not their solutions.

Rebecca Reaney is absolutely believable as the fragile, increasingly desperate widow, trying to shield her son from everything even though she can't shield herself. Both Reaney and Lara Lemon make convincing sisters as well, with a healthy dose of sibling rivalry mixed in with the affection. And luckily, Gus Barry also does a good job with his role -- any time you rely on a child actor for a major character it's a gamble, but it pays off here.

I'll give it four out of five. Despite the supernatural aspects it's more of a psychological horror with an excellent slow, creepy build up. The ending becomes suddenly frantic and almost seems to belong to a different movie, which is a little jarring. But aside from this, the film capably melds a quietly sinister atmosphere with scenes of all-too-human tragedy, to great effect.

Image: 
James' room looking like the aftermath of a Spider-Man visit.

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