Identity (no spoilers)

I saw the new Jon Cusack movie, IDENTITY, last night. It’s a bit of a thriller, a bit of a take on slasher flicks, and a bit of a psychological horror movie all at the same time. The good news is that it’s less than an hour and a half. I’m starting to appreciate such movies more. If I want a three hour epic, I think I’d rather do it at home with the home theater (such as it is.) Those movie seats get butt-numbing after a couple of hours.

How was the movie? Well, for the first hour and a ten minutes it’s a really cool thriller that’s shot relatively well. I couldn’t help but think that Conrad Hall would have found a way to brighten up the shots a bit while still retaining the dark and rainy atmosphere, but you can’t get perfect on every movie. All the same, it’s a well-directored movie with nice staging and lots of rack-focus.

Then the big twist of the movie hits. I think it’s the reason I heard people muttering “terrible,” “stupid,” and “horrible” as I left the theater. Your whole enjoyment of the movie will come down to whether or not the twist throws you. If you can buy it and run with it, you’ll see the whole movie in a different light and REALLY enjoy the evil chuckle you’ll get from the last minute of the film. If not, you’re out of it, the movie has thrown you, and you might as well forget it. For that reason, this might best be a renter.

But the movie does have a lot going for it. Cusack is great. Liotta is great. Amanda Peet is, er, not bad eye candy. John C. McGinley (from SCRUBS) I had a hard time buying, but that’s because of my SCRUBS dedication.

I bought the twist and went along with it and enjoyed the movie, but I can’t help but thinking that they wouldn’t have been much better off if the movie were a straight thriller with a bit of a nod and a wink to the slasher genre. It was a really good one for an hour before things went off that track, and I would have loved to see that play out, especially with the all-too-telegraphed minor twist of Liotta’s character. (Sorry, guys, but I saw that one coming from a mile away.)

I’d be really interested in a special edition DVD for this one, though. I got the feeling that some character scenes had been cut out, and I’d love to hear the director or writer discussing it. By the way, DO NOT LOOK AT THE TRAILER if you plan on seeing it soon. It gives away far too much. Thankfully, I hadn’t seen the trailer in a couple of months, so I had forgotten enough to enjoy the movie.


2 Responses to “Identity (no spoilers)”

  1. layne
    26. April 2003 at 19:08

    I saw the film last night too, and to be honest, if it wasn’t for the twist (which i think turned off quite a few folks in my audience as well), it would have been a pretty dull by-the-numbers boogie man flick. Despite having a very good cast, who did a good job, the characters themselves were fairly one dimensional, fitting into neat little pigeonholes(egomaniacal movie star, weary ex-cop, awkward ineffectual step father, et al.). It was this obviousness that made me think a little more about the movie, and in fact, after the first 6o minutes, I was scared that the ballyhooed twist was going to be some run of the mill red herring bait and switch. When the reveal hit, it made the movie and its sloppy characterizations make sense, and in fact made me appreciate the characters a little more. Using familiar stereotypes lets the audience get into the story faster, and helps them keep their bearings through the movie. When it was all over, I was impressed with the flick; it won’t cure cancer or win any awards(not that that matters) but it was a great example of manipulating the audience without cheating them…(But that’s just my opinion…I’ve rambled enough)

  2. Augie De Blieck Jr.
    29. April 2003 at 11:05

    Hey layne,

    The more I think about the movie, the more I think you’re right. I don’t watch many horror movies and I don’t think I’ve ever sat through a slasher flic. (Does SCREAM count?) I’ve never seen any fo the FRIDAY THE 13th or NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movies. Not my cup of tea. So I’m not guarding against all the cliches and tired old conventions of the genre. Maybe that’s why the movie could be so “fresh” to me, even before the twist.

    I’m definitely picking this one up on DVD down the line. I want to revisit it.