Well, Mangold takes his time revealing it to us. The problem is that he directs the first two-thirds like every horror film you've ever seen; you know exactly what will happen next, down to the tiny details. This means there's no suspense or horror, merely a creepy vibe and a sneaking suspicion that there's something fishy here. Indeed there is, and if he'd let us in on the secret earlier the film could have been a startling, provocative gem. The same complaint could be made about the performances, which are in the cheesy horror movie mould, except perhaps Cusack, who is far more natural and authentic than the twitching and/or screaming folk around him (Busey is especially corny). And the production values equally plunder the genre with the incessant thunderstorm (roads are washed out and there are no phones), menacing shadows and sounds, and even a sparking power line! Then when it starts getting unbearably hackneyed, the film shifts. The final third is so bracingly original and unexpected that I won't say anything more. Besides that it's a pity Mangold couldn't come up with an original way to make things terrifying. Because this will only scare easily frightened people who haven't seen very many movies.
dir James Mangold|
scr Michael Cooney
with John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Alfred Molina, Clea DuVall, Rebecca DeMornay, John C McGinley, John Hawkes, William Lee Scott, Jake Busey, Bret Loehr
release US 25.Apr.03; UK 13.Jun.03
You can check out any time you like. Peet and Cusack try to survive as the motel guests are killed off one by one...
|Tony Wong, Canada: "Knowing the story's secret does nothing to ruin this movie. We are told this fact very early in the movie and it is just a small nuance of the whole journey. The wonderful part of this movie is how this plays out. Finding out who the killer is and how it concludes and then just when you think its done, bamm a twist. Knowing the ending makes me want to see the movie again to see how the ending fits in the movie. Incredible acting and filmed to perfection. Everything that happened at the motel is good enough to stand on its own. Add to that the twist of the killer and all the nuances of the mind make this a great watch. I would watch this move several times." (6.Oct.03)|