REVIEW: PLAYING GOD

CAST

David Duchovny (The X-Files)
Timothy Hutton (Kinsey)
Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
Michael Massee (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Peter Stormare (Prison Break)
Andrew Tiernan (300)
Gary Dourdan (CSI)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Tracey Walter (Conan The Destroyer)
Keone Young (Alien Nation)

Stripped of his medical license after performing an operation while high on amphetamines, famed LA surgeon Dr Eugene Sands abandons his former life only to find himself crossing paths with Raymond Blossom, an infamous counterfeiter. Employed as a “gun-shot doctor” when Raymond’s associates cannot risk visiting a hospital, Eugene is lured deep into the criminal world and becomes entangled with his boss’s girlfriend.With the mixed reviews this got I wasn’t expecting too much, and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a very entertaining small crime film with interesting characters, excellent portrayals, writing that’s breezy without being glib, and a good pace. It looks good too, in a funky way. Apparently people either like this movie or just hate it, and I’m one who liked it.

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REVIEW: I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER

i still know

CAST

Jennifer Love Hewitt (Heartbreakers)
Freddie Prince Jr. (Scooby-Doo)
Brandy Norwood (Moesha)
Mekhi Phifer (8 Mile)
Muse Watson (NCIS)
Bill Cobbs (The Bodyguard)
Matthew Settle (Gossip Girl)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
Jennifer Esposito (Summer of Sam)
John Hawkes (The Sessions)
Jack Black (Goosebumps)

One year after the events of the first film, Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is attending summer classes in Boston, in avoidance of returning to her hometown of Southport. She suffers from memories and nightmares of the accident and brutal murders of her friends by the vengeful fisherman, Ben Willis (Muse Watson), the summer before.Julie’s friend Karla Wilson (Brandy) receives a phone call from a local radio station, asking her to participate in a contest to win an all-expenses-paid vacation to the Bahamas for the Fourth of July weekend. Karla must guess the capital of Brazil. Her answer is “Rio de Janeiro”. The radio host tells her she is right (though the correct answer is Brasilia) and she is given four tickets for the trip. Julie invites her boyfriend, Ray (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), but he declines. He is hurt by her earlier refusal to visit him in Southport. Ray intends to propose to Julie, and changes his mind about the trip, planning to show up as a surprise. That evening, Ray and his co-worker Dave (John Hawkes) drive to Boston to meet Julie. They stop due to a car in the middle of the road. As Ray gets out to inspect the scene, Ben Willis appears and kills Dave with his hook. Ben takes Ray’s truck and chases him down the road. Ray gets away, but is injured from falling down a hill.The next morning, Julie and Karla depart on the trip with Karla’s boyfriend Tyrell (Mehki Phifer) and their friend, Will Benson (Matthew Settle). Knowing Will has a crush on Julie, Karla invited him as a replacement for Ray, much to Julie’s discomfort. The group arrives in the Bahamas, on the island of Tower Bay, to find that other guests are leaving due to the imminent hurricane season. To her surprise, Julie is sharing a hotel room with Will. That evening at the hotel’s bar, Julie is talked into singing karaoke. She stops when the words “I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER” roll onto the screen. Terrified, she runs back to her room and is met by Will, who laid out for her flowers and a love note. Julie sidesteps Will’s affection for her, while Tyrell and Karla (and later Will) get into the hot tub.Julie notices her toothbrush is missing. Feeling something is wrong, she searches the room and finds Darick, the dockhand, hanging dead in the closet. She gets Tyrell, Karla, and Will, but when they return there is no sign of Darick. Julie tries to call the cops, but the phone lines are dead due to an incoming hurricane. The group and the hotel staff prepare for the storm.The following day, the group finds that several hotel staff and the manager have been murdered and the two-way radio, their only way of contact, has been destroyed. Isolated, Julie tells the others about the previous summer. Tyrell suspects that Estes (Bill Cobbs), the boat hand porter, is the killer, since he is the only one who cannot be found. The group goes to Estes’ apartment, searching for clues. They find Julie’s toothbrush and Karla’s hair tie, concluding Estes has been using voodoo to protect them. Estes appears and states the capital of Brazil is not Rio, meaning the trip was a set-up. He leads them to a graveyard in the forest with the graves of Ben Willis’ wife and daughter, and an empty grave and tombstone with Julie’s name. Estes explains that Ben and his wife Sarah had two children: a son, Will, and a daughter, Susan. Ben murdered Sarah in the hotel room that Julie is staying in when he found out about her affair and her plans to leave him with their children.Estes goes missing, and Will volunteers to find him. Will finds Estes but he attacks Will while Ray takes a boat to the island. Meanwhile, Julie, Karla, and Tyrell head to the hotel kitchen for something to eat, and find Nancy (Jennifer Esposito), the bartender, hiding in the freezer. Ben appears and kills Tyrell. The girls retreat to the attic, where Karla is attacked by Ben. They both fall through to the hotel bedroom below. Karla runs from the room and jumps onto the greenhouse. Julie and Nancy rescue Karla and run to the storm cellar to take refuge. They find that the storm cellar stores Ben’s victims. Will bursts in and convinces the girls to head back to the hotel, stating that he saw Ben on the beach.Back at the hotel, Julie sees Will is bleeding from his stomach, so Nancy takes Karla to find a first aid kit. While retrieving the kit, Nancy and Karla find Estes has been impaled with a harpoon. Ben appears and kills Nancy. Back in the lobby, Julie is tending to Will, unable to find a wound. Will admits this is because it is not his blood. He asks Julie what her favorite radio station is, revealing he was the radio host and killed Estes with the harpoon. Will drags Julie to the graveyard, and tells her he is Ben Willis’s son, explaining his actions. Ben appears and attacks Julie. Ray arrives, and a fight ensues between him and Will. When Ben tries to stab Ray, Ray moves and Ben accidentally kills Will instead. While Ben is distraught from killing his son, Julie takes a gun and shoots him in the chest. Ben falls dead into the grave made for Julie. Ray comforts Julie. Back at the hotel, Karla is found alive. The three are rescued by the coast guard. Sometime later, Ray and Julie have married and are in their new home. Ray is brushing his teeth before bed and Julie is in their bedroom. The bathroom door is quietly shut and locked while Ray is occupied. Julie sits down on her bed, looks in the mirror, and sees Ben under the bed. She screams as Ben grabs her foot with his hook and pulls her under.This was an okay sequel. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer moves away from the suspenseful thriller kind of movie that viewers witnessed in its predecessor and transitions to more of a slasher horror. Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze Jr. reprise their roles from the first film as the couple of Julie and Ray. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is one of those movies that have you asking too many questions throughout the duration of the film. This would mark the last of the I Know What You Did films to feature any of the original cast and crew as a third sequel released in 2006 titled “I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer featured a fresh new cast.

REVIEW: FREAKED

CAST

Alex Winter (Bill & Ted)
Michael Stoyanov (The Dark Knight)
Megan Ward (Crash and Burn)
Randy Quaid (Independence Day)
Keanu Reeves (Speed)
Mr. T (The A-Team)
Bobcat Goldthwait (One Crazy Summer)
Derek McGrath (Sherlock Hound)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Jon M. Chu (Once A Cop)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon a Time)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
Brooke Shields (Lipstick Jungle)
Morgan Fairchild (The Seduction)
Deep Roy (Charlie and The Chocolate Factory)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)

MCDFREA EC006Skye (Brooke Shields) is interviewing beloved former child star Ricky Coogin (Alex Winter). Rather bluntly, Skye asks how Ricky so quickly went from one of America’s sweethearts to a name that makes children scream in terror.
51imjaqljqlIt all began when he accepted a job from the slimy mega-corporation E.E.S. to promote “Zygrot 24”, a controversial and lethal toxic fertilizer, in South America. Although hesitant at first, the greedy, self-centered Coogin caves in after their sleazy chairman (William Sadler) offers him $5,000,000 and he hops on the first plane to South America with his buddy Ernie (Michael Stoyanov). During their flight, the duo have a run-in with Ricky’s 12-year old number one fan Stuey Gluck (Alex Zuckerman). Once Ricky and Ernie arrive in the country of Santa Flan, they cross paths with a group of protesters, specifically the hard-willed and attractive young environmentalist Julie (Megan Ward). The two con Julie into thinking they’re also environmentalists and she agrees to join them on a trip to an anti-Zygrot 24 protest. However, she soon finds out their true identities and the three are stuck with each other for the rest of the drive. They decide to take a detour to see Freek Land, a freak show, and they wind up in the clutches of demented proprietor Elijah C. Skuggs (Randy Quaid) and his henchman, the long-tongued Toad (Jaime Cardriche). Skuggs introduces them to his “Tasty Freekz Machine”, a contraption powered by Zygrot 24 that morphs regular people into “Hideous Mutant Freekz” to become part of his show. Julie and Ernie are merged into a pair of conjoined twins and Ricky is transformed into a hideous half-man, half-monster.
dorian-gray-pics-hd-ben-barnes-8952311-1200-8003Ricky meets the other freaks: Ortiz the Dog Boy (Keanu Reeves), the self-proclaimed “Leader of the Freaks”; Worm (Derek McGrath), the half-man, half-worm; Nosey (Jeff Kahn), whose entire head is one big nose; Cowboy (John Hawkes), the half-man, half-cow; the Bearded Lady (Mr. T); Sockhead (Bobcat Goldthwait), who has a sock puppet for a head; The Eternal Flame (Lee Arenberg), who has constant flaming flatulence; Rosie the Pinhead; The Hideous Frogman (Tim Burns), a Frenchman in a scuba suit; and the skeleton of Paul Lynde. At first, Ricky wants nothing to do with any of the other freaks, but soon warms up to them after hearing their stories of how they came to be here. Meanwhile, he discovers that he’s developed a telepathic bond with Stuey and summons him to get help. Stuey manages to sell Ricky’s story to the Weekly World News, but ends up being captured by a group of shady businessmen that presumably work for Elijah.
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Ricky eventually finds out that Elijah’s Zygrot suppliers are none other than E.E.S., who arrive at Freek Land with a shipment of Zygrot and an imprisoned Stuey Gluck. As they discuss their plans to mutate the world’s population into an efficient workforce, Stuey follows a telepathic tip from Rick and manages to escape, grabbing the tainted batch of Zygrot along the way. Elijah goes ahead and infects Ricky with his own Zygrot, turning him into an equally grotesque seven-foot monster. As the Ricky Monster and Stuey Monster battle to the death onstage, Elijah catches the E.E.S. executives double-crossing him and stealing his “Tasty Freaks Machine”. Right before the Ricky Monster is about to destroy the Stuey Monster, however, a wave of compassion comes over him, and he drops his weapon and gives Stuey a hug. Enraged, Elijah unsuccessfully tries to fight the Ricky Monster, who bashes him in the head, paralyzing him.
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They are then joined by the still-mutated Ortiz and the Stuey Monster before it’s revealed that Skye Daley is actually Elijah C. Skuggs. Skuggs lunges after Ricky with a machete, only to be gunned down by the now normal Julie. As she embraces Ricky, Skye rises again, this time to be gunned down by Ernie.MCDFREA EC001The main thing people should know about this film is that it stars Bill and Ted and Death, Keanu Reeves stars as Ortiz the dog boy and he spends the whole film in heavy dog makeup. if that is not enough then how about Mr T as the bearded lady?! Brooke Shields as a talk show host with hideous legs? 13 milkmen (including one in a frogsuit, one as a cow, one as a worm, one as a sock puppet and one which is a hammer) and some of the funniest visual humor you have ever seen involving a ginger troll. A Classic film thats still fun to watch all these years later

REVIEW: TAKEN (2002)

CAST

Dakota Fanning (War of The Worlds)
Eric Close (American Snuper)
Catherine Dent (Terminator: TSCC)
Joel Gretsch (V)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Tine Holmes (Half Nelson)
Steve Burton (Cyber Tracker)
Julie Benz (Angel)
Stacy Grant (Shanghai Noon)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
Michael Moriarty (Courage Under Fire)
Rob LaBelle (Jack Frost)
Julie Ann Emery (Fargo)
Adam Kaufman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
James McDaniel (Sleepy Hollow)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)
Ryan Hurst (Bates Motel)
James Kirk (X-Men 2)
Anton Yelchin (Star Trek)
Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins)
Brenda James (Slither)
Chad Morgan (The Purge: Anarchy)
Jonathan Young (Sanctuary)
Ryan Merriman (Final Destination 3)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Emily Holmes (The Wicker Man)
Erin Karpluk (Being Erica)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Matt Frewer (Watchmen)
Desmond Harrington (Ghost Ship)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Emily Bergl (Carrie 2)
Britt Irvin (V)
Camille Sullivan (The Birdwatcher)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)
Elle Fanning (Super 8)
Gabrielle Rose (Dark Angel)
Roger Cross (Arrow)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Linda Ko (Antitrust)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Justin Chatwin (Taking Lives)
Gwynyth Walsh (Van Helsing)
Heather Donahue (The Blair Witch Project)

From none other than visionary Steven Spielberg comes TAKEN (2002), which I first saw during it’s initial run on the BBC. I admire the scope, ambition, and emotion attached to this entertaining mini series.It starts off in 1944, with Russell Keys, along with his bomber crew, being ‘taken’ by an alien spacecraft during their WWII mission. The crew is experimented on, but Keys is essentially the lone survivor. Keys returns home with PTSD, not due to war, but due to the alien experience. This compels him to leave his wife and child to solve the mystery. Eventually, the aliens take Russell’s teen son Jesse Keys. The aliens obviously see an internal resolve in the Keys’ men that distinguishes them from the rest of the human race.
A second parallel story starts around 1947, and involves the lone survivor of a downed alien spacecraft that manages to take human form as “John” , who seeks refuge on a Texas farm owned by Sally Clarke, a hard-working waitress and single mother of two. John and Sally bond and she is impregnated, leading to a human-alien hybrid Jacob Clarke (superbly played by then-newcomer Anton Yelchin, now known for being the new Chekhov in the re-booted Star Trek franchise).The final parallel story also starts in 1947 in the infamous Roswell, New Mexico, where the local Air Force has found John’s downed ship and his 4 alien compadres who did not survive. Backed by the government, the military takes over the super-secret project, which starts off being briefly led by Colonel Campbell and is soon taken over by his ambitious son-in-law Captain Owen Crawford (brilliantly played by Joel Gretsch), military intelligence officer. Gretsch perfectly essays the role of megalomaniacal Crawford, who runs the project with unapologetic brio. I really felt that Gretsch’s character carried the first few episodes (spanning 1947 to 1962) with strong support from the other actors.
Taken’s first half  storytelling is strong, a perfect balance of science fiction, politics, speculation, and drama. One really buys into the premise that these goings-on could have actually happened. It’s definitely not fiction that many an American have reported UFO sightings and alien experiences over the years, and this miniseries is one of the better attempts at relaying this message to the viewer.
With the second half of the mini series the puzzle pieces finally start to come together to an interesting conclusion. Emily Burgl (as Lisa Clarke) and Andy Kaufman (as Charlie Keys) were commendable as the adult versions of the last respective offspring of the Clarke-Keys clans, the main highlight of the second half was  was the performance of newcomer Dakota Fanning (who plays Allie) whose wonderful narration is a key to the series overall success. She stole the show from all of her adult counterparts. I would definitely recommend the miniseries based on ambition and overall scope and the tightly woven storytellingthe show demonstrates. It’s an epic Sci-Fi story that is intriguing and at times touching. It wasthe series that made Dakota Fanning a star.

REVIEW: THE SESSIONS


CAST

John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Helen Hunt (As Good as It get)
William H. Macy (Jurassic Park 3)
Moon Bloodgood (Terminator: Salvation)
Annika Marks (Grace)
Adam Arkin (Halloween: H20)
Rhea Perlman (Cheers)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Robin Weigert (Deadwood)
Rusty Schwimmer (Highlander 2)

In Berkeley, California in 1988, Mark O’Brien is a poet who is forced to live in an iron lung due to complications from polio. Due to his condition, he has never had sex. After unsuccessfully proposing to his caretaker Amanda, and sensing he may be near death, he decides he wants to lose his virginity. After consulting his priest, Father Brendan, he gets in touch with Cheryl Cohen-Greene, a professional sex surrogate. She tells him they will have no more than six sessions together. They begin their sessions, but soon it is clear that they are developing romantic feelings for each other. Cheryl’s husband, who loves her deeply, fights to suppress his jealousy, at first withholding a love poem that Mark has sent by mail to Cheryl, which she eventually finds. After several attempts, Mark and Cheryl are able to have mutually satisfying sex, but decide to cut the sessions short on account of their burgeoning feelings.

One day sometime later, the power goes out in the building in which Mark lives, causing the iron lung to stop functioning and making it necessary for Mark to be rushed to the hospital. However, he survives and meets Susan Fernbach, a young woman with whom the audience senses he will finally find happiness. The film then cuts to Mark’s funeral, held sometime later, and attended by four of the women he came to know and care for, including Cheryl. Father Brendan gives the homily and Susan reads the poem he had previously sent Cheryl.As a whole, the film doesn’t shy away from much. The sex “therapy” sessions are depicted as realistically as possible and are both funny and touching. Ben Lewin’s direction is simple yet it manages to adequately depict O’Brien’s world without sensationalizing it. It’s an all round simple tale that is well told. This is an adult drama that will make you laugh, cry and look more positively at your own life. There aren’t many films that do that these days.

REVIEW: CONTAGION (2011)

CAST

Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal TV)
Kate Winslet (Divergent)
Marion Cotillrd (La Vie En Rose)
Jude Law (Spy)
Matt Damon (Jason Bourne)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Monique Gabriela Curnen (Lie to Me)
Jennifer Ehle (The Ides of March)
Elliott Gould (OCean’s Eleven)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Bryan Cranston (Godzilla)
Chin Han (Arrow)
Sanaa Lathan (Blade)
Kara Zediker (Rock Star)

Returning from a Hong Kong business trip, Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) has a layover in Chicago to have sex with a former lover before returning to her family in suburban Minneapolis. She appears to have contracted a cold during her trip. Her six-year-old son from a previous marriage, Clark, also becomes symptomatic and is sent home from school. Beth’s condition worsens and two days later she collapses with severe seizures. Her husband, Mitch (Matt Damon), rushes her to the hospital, but she dies of an unknown cause.

Mitch returns home and finds that Clark has also died from a similar infection. Mitch is put in isolation but seems to be immune to the disease. He is released and returns home to his teenaged daughter Jory, who had been living with Mitch’s former wife and her husband and has decided to stay with Mitch since he’s now all alone. They face decaying social order and rampant looting of stores and homes. Mitch is unsure if Jory has inherited his immunity and he struggles with the frustration of quarantine, his desire to protect his daughter and learning that his wife was cheating on him immediately prior to both her death and that of his stepson.

In Atlanta, representatives of the Department of Homeland Security meet with Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) of the CDC and express fears that the disease is a bio weapon intended to cause terror over the Thanksgiving weekend. Dr. Cheever dispatches Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet), an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, to Minneapolis to begin investigating. Mears traces the outbreak back to Emhoff while negotiating with local bureaucrats initially reluctant to commit resources for a proper public health response to the virus. Dr. Mears later becomes infected and dies.

At the CDC, Dr. Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle) determines the virus is a mix of genetic material from pig and bat viruses. Work on a cure stalls because scientists cannot discover a cell culture within which to grow the newly identified Meningoencephalitis Virus One (MEV-1). UCSF professor Dr. Ian Sussman (Elliott Gould) violates orders from Cheever (relayed through Hextall) to destroy his samples, and identifies a usable MEV-1 cell culture using bat cells. Hextall uses the breakthrough to work on a vaccine. Other scientists determine the virus is spread by fomites, with a basic reproduction number of four when the virus mutates, with projections of one in twelve of the population being infected, and a 25-30% mortality rate.

Conspiracy theorist Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) posts videos about the virus on his popular blog. In one video, he shows himself sick and later claims he recovered using a homeopathic cure derived from forsythia. In a panic, people seeking forsythia overwhelm pharmacies, spreading and accelerating the contagion as the infected come into contact with healthy people. Krumwiede’s claims attract national attention. During a television interview he discloses that Dr. Cheever had secretly informed friends and family to leave Chicago just before the city was quarantined. Cheever is then informed the government will investigate and may charge him for leaking information. Later it is revealed Krumwiede had faked being infected by the virus in an attempt to increase profits for shareholders in companies producing and selling forsythia. Krumwiede is arrested for conspiracy and securities fraud, only to walk free when his many supporters successfully raise funds to provide for his bail.

Using an attenuated virus Dr. Hextall identifies a possible vaccine. To cut out the lengthy time it would take to obtain informed consent from infected patients, Dr. Hextall inoculates herself with the experimental vaccine and immediately visits her gravely ill father, who has been infected with MEV-1. The doctor does not contract MEV-1 and the vaccine is declared a success. The vaccine’s production is rapidly increased, but due to limited production, the CDC awards vaccinations by lottery based on birth date. Inoculations take place for one full year until every survivor is vaccinated. First responders, doctors and others designated by the government are declared exempt from the lottery. Dr. Cheever gives his fast-tracked MEV-1 vaccination to the son of Roger (John Hawkes), a CDC janitor who had overheard Dr. Cheever’s phone call warning his girlfriend to leave Chicago.

Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard), a WHO epidemiologist, travels to Hong Kong to follow the Beth Emhoff lead. She collaborates with Sun Feng (Chin Han) and other local epidemiologists and public health officials; they identify Emhoff as patient zero. As the virus spreads, Feng kidnaps Orantes to use her as leverage to obtain MEV-1 vaccine doses for his village. Orantes spends months living with the villagers until the vaccine is announced. Feng exchanges Orantes for the vaccine doses. Her colleague mentions that the exchanged doses were placebos and Orantes rushes away to warn them. The death toll reached 2.5 million in the U.S. and 26 million worldwide. Dr. Hextall places samples of MEV-1 in cryogenic storage, alongside samples of H1N1 and SARS.

The source of the virus is revealed to viewers. A bulldozer (coincidently, operating for the company Emhoff works for) knocks down a palm tree disturbing some bats, with one finding shelter and food in a banana tree. That bat then flies over a pig pen, dropping a chunk of banana from its mouth, which was then eaten by a piglet. Chinese chefs later collected pigs from the pen and took them to a casino where one chef was called away from his preparations of the piglet, casually wiping his hands on his apron. The chef then shook hands with Beth Emhoff, giving her the mix of bat and pig viruses that makes her patient zero and the origin of the MEV-1 virus.

This was an interesting film. It is very realistic and while there is no major action plot, the realism keeps you hooked.

 

REVIEW: IDENTITY

CAST
John Cusack (2012)
Ray Liotta (Hannibal)
Amanda Peet (The Ex)
John Hawkes (Winters Bone)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Broden Chronicles)
John C. McGinley (Highlander 2)
Jake Busey (Fast Sofa)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Rebecca De Mornay (Jessica Jones)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
A convict introduced as “Malcolm Rivers”—who was abandoned as a child at a motel by his prostitute mother—awaits execution for several vicious murders that took place at an apartment building. Malcolm’s psychiatrist, Dr. Mallick, has discovered his journal that may explain why he committed the murders. With this late evidence brought forth, a new hearing takes place.
Meanwhile, ten strangers find themselves stranded in the middle of a torrential rainstorm at a remote Nevada motel, run by Larry Washington. The group consists of an ex-cop, now limousine driver, Ed Dakota; Caroline Suzanne, an actress popular in the 1980s; Officer Rhodes, who is transporting serial killer Robert Maine; Paris Nevada, a prostitute; newlyweds Lou and Ginny Isiana; and the York family, George and Alice, and mute 9-year-old son Timmy. The Yorks are in crisis because Alice has been struck by Ed’s car. With both ends of the road completely flooded, the group prepares to spend the night. However, they quickly find there is an unknown murderer present, killing off each of the guests. Caroline is the first to be killed. Ed, finding her severed head in a clothes dryer, thinks Maine killed her. When they check the convict, they discover he has escaped.
All the others become worried, and Ginny flees in terror to her room. Her husband Lou chases after her but is also murdered. Maine runs through the hills, only to be dumbfounded when he finds himself back at the motel. He enters the diner, where Ed and Rhodes jump and beat him into unconsciousness, putting Larry on guard duty. However, Maine is later found dead. Paris discovers a dead body in Larry’s freezer, which is revealed to be the real hotel manager. Larry attempts to escape in his truck, claiming he did not kill anybody; he accidentally runs over George, killing him.
Each body is accompanied by a numbered room key, the order of which suggests a countdown. The survivors tie Larry up, and as he tells them his story the others start to believe he really did not kill anyone. Subsequently, Alice is discovered to have died from her injuries. Ginny and Timmy die when their car blows up, but their bodies are nowhere to be found. The remaining four discover that all the bodies have disappeared and that all ten share the same birthday; Ed realizes that all ten names are linked to US states (Caroline being the Carolinas, Lou Isiana being Louisiana, etc.). Paris discovers that Rhodes is actually a convict as well; he killed the corrections officer transporting him and Maine cross state and assumed the cop’s identity. Rhodes attempts to kill Paris, but she is saved by Larry, who hits Rhodes with a fire extinguisher, only to be shot and killed by him.
Back at the hearing, the contents of Malcolm’s journal are revealed, indicating Malcolm suffers from an extreme case of dissociative identity disorder, harboring ten distinct personalities. Mallick is able to bring forth one of Malcolm’s personalities: Ed – all of the events happening at the motel are concurrently occurring inside Malcolm’s mind, and each one of Malcolm’s personalities is represented by one person at the motel. Mallick explains to “Ed” that the events at the motel are a result of treatment Malcolm is receiving: the killings at the motel are Malcolm’s mental attempts to eliminate his nine excess personalities. Mallick further gives “Ed” the mission of making sure that the hostile personality (i.e., the one responsible for Malcolm’s committing the crimes for which he is being tried) is eliminated to prevent Malcolm from being executed.
Back in the motel setting, Ed believes Rhodes is the murderer, and the two shoot each other to death, leaving only Paris alive. When Mallick demonstrates that the homicidal personality is dead, the Judge decides to place Malcolm in a mental institution under Mallick’s care. In the final scene, Malcolm is driven in a van, along with Mallick to the institution. In Malcolm’s mind, Paris has driven away from the motel to her hometown in Frostproof, Florida. As she tends an orange grove, she discovers the room 1 motel key, and finds Timmy behind her. Timmy, the true homicidal personality, had orchestrated all the deaths at the motel, and made it appear that he had been killed as well; he finishes his task by killing Paris. Now driven only by Timmy, Malcolm strangles Mallick and then attacks the orderlies and the van driver, forcing the van off the side of the road.
The plot is designed to keep you guessing, as each plot twist throws up another series of questions and seemingly inexplicable situations. What is the relevance of the court case? How come keys are found by each body as the death toll mounts? Who is innocent and who is guilty? Here is a thriller that not only buckles the formula, but almost completely demolishes it. Each actor does a superb job of maintaining the suspense.