Identity (2003)

Director: James Mangold.
Writer: Agatha Christie And Then There Were None
Starring. John Cusack, Jack Busey, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Pruitt Taylor Vince. USA. 1h 30m.

The sophistication of the movie sets it apart from other thrillers of the era, at first I couldn’t quite pinpoint it but after researching the film and discovering that it’s loosely based on an Agatha Christie novel, then it all fell into place. While I’ve never been really into Christies work I am often spellbound by the dynamic and grizzly narratives. This is a perfect testament to the fact that her writing strengths are unbound and with the right adaptation will probably live on.

The credits hold a lot of vital information, a psychologist , played by British actor Alfred Molina, discusses a unknown man who’s been charged with murder but is displaying profound psychological disturbances, then verging on the fringe of film noir, the film opens with a series of unfortunate events, on the stormy highway in the Nevada desert. A family get a puncher from a high heel, it’s then shown that a call girl accidently lost her clothings after a kinky date, but while fixing the car, a chauffeur to a b-list celebrity stikes the wife, and one by one they make their way to a lonely motel, a young couple and a strange duo, a cop transporting a prisoner join in the game, but once everyone is accounted and have made it to their motel room, this movie starts to turn the crime clogs and the first hint that something is deeply wrong takes places in a montage showing that not everyone is who they appear to be, even Larry (John Hawkes) the mild mannered desk clerk at the motel has something to hide.

John Cusack plays an ex cop, now hired as a driver for a washed up, bossy actress, after a bad day on the job, he finds this work easier to handle, but the loud bitch in the back is the reason why he accidently ploughed into an innocent woman on the highway. Taking responsibility he insists on doing all he can save her life, but when his employer turns up broken and battered in an industrial washing machine then he put on his cops cap and starts investigating the crime.

Slowly bodies start showing up all over, the criminal played by the giggling Jake Busey is the prime suspect as he’s escaped the hot headed vice cop Rhodes (Liotta) but as the movie progresses and the paranoid mounts everyone has the finger pointed at them, but who is the killer and what is the bizarre connection they all have with each other.

It’s a unique horror, that braves to retell a classic story with fresh energy but the result seems to be full on marmite, but I for one, really enjoyed it, the double twist at the end goes to show just how fucked up the killer in this movie really is, but it keeps you guessing until the bitter end. There’s a script with about a lot of the characters, who do try to make the most of a terrible situation, slowly they catch on that there is something bigger going on in their little world but all are afraid to admit it, it’s as if a supernatural presence takes over the final act as bodies start to vanish and the motel repairs itself, this isn’t the work of a mortal man, but what.

Relying on acting and cinematography, the film isn’t overly bloody but feels like a slasher in most respects, it’s just not maximised for shock value, but it remains a shocking and insightful drama with a real dangerous edge. The film is set in almost real time, and this one rainy fate filled night has a film noir foreboding, but the way in which the game is being played is very modern. thankfully it doesn’t try to be a gore filled spectacular because it would have pissed away some beautiful scenes and a thrilling story, for me the balance is just right.

Rating 6/10

RTen little Indians (1965) Deep in the Woods (2000)
5s – John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Jake Busey,

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