Thursday, October 22, 2009

Notable Slasher Films: Identity (2003)

One film that takes the puzzle aspect of the serial killer/slasher film seriously is 2003’s Identity directed by James Mangold. It even references Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” It has the suspense. It has the scares. It has the violence. But it also has the mystery.

Ten people (a family of three, a newly married couple, a limo driver and actress, a prostitute, and a cop transporting a convict) arrive at a motel run by a strange man in the middle of a storm. The roads in every direction are washed out and flooded, so they are trapped. One by one, they all begin to get picked off, each body “tagged” with a room key counting down from ten. As is the case in all of these puzzles, we are trying to discover: Who is the killer? What connects the characters? Why are they being killed?

On the same night, in the same storm, a judge has been asked to hear a final appeal for a convicted killer who is going to be executed in a matter of hours. His lawyers have new evidence that might prove he should have his judgment changed to a life sentence in psychiatric care.

That is about all that can be said about this film without giving too much away. The problem is that this film is firmly located in the horror genre and comes with all the violence and language that are associated with it, so it is not for everyone.

The thing that makes this film stand out from so many others of its kind is its exploration of reality and perspective. Not quite on the level of something like The Matrix or Dark City, but interesting nonetheless.

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