Reviewed by: JimmyO
Tory N. Thomson
What's it about
A father and his son go on a deadly killing spree, spreading fear across the Washington. Ulli Lommel tackles the real life Beltway sniper attacks in this low budget shocker.
Is it good movie?
In 2002, a series of shootings sent shockwaves all across the nation. While the sniper attacks took place in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia, fear spread quickly. The shootings occurred at different times and different locations, without any connection to each of the victims. It was a terrifying time, that had people literally running to their cars to avoid being shot from out of nowhere. While there was a television movie about the event back in 2003 called D.C. Sniper: 23 Days of Fear it hasnĎt been taken on with a feature film. But now, we have Ulli Lommelís version. And sadly, it was exactly what youíd expect from a Ulli Lommel film. It is cheap, it is exploitative and it is moves along at a snailís pace. Ironically it is one of his best works.
The film stays mostly true to this dark time in recent history, but it makes sure to show a little bit of the brain matter as the bullets kill their intended victim. In fact, since the film is told from John Allen Muhammad (Ken Foree who also co-wrote the script) and Lee Boyd Malvo (Tory N. Thompson), you have no real attachment to the victims. And their victims are mainly just extras with a death scene. And this is the films biggest problem. We learn about the mindset of Lee and John, but nothing more. Even the detectives involved in the case are weakly drawn. Sure, I get the fact that Ken Foree is a major horror icon, and I am personally a fan, but even he canít make this work. If his performance had been in another film about this particular story, and it had been clear and focused, he wouldíve been great.
While I donít think that this was meant to be exploitation, by nature, Ulli Lommel is a specialist in that type of filmmaking. His direct to DVD features all feel misogynistic and laughable. They feature nudity, a dumb killer and gore. But here, he tries to legitimately profile Malvo and Muhammad, but by ignoring any of the victims stories, it just feels like his typical fare. The performances from the films two leads are better than average thanks to Foree and Thompson, but oftentimes their dialogue felt forced and just plain bad. Is it too soon to make a film about this nightmare? It might very well be, especially when it is as drab, boring and sort of offensive as this. Hey, at least its better than Ulliís usual slash and stalk.
Video / Audio
Ulli Lommelís D.C. Sniper is his best work. But that doesnít say a lot. By focusing on seeing the brain matter shot out of a real life victimís head, it just comes across as exploitative. I donít know if this was the right time, or if Lommel was the right director for this true life tale of terror. Not even the always cool Ken Foree and Christopher Kriesa can save this one.