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THE CRY OF THE OWL
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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Jamie Thraves

Starring:
Julia Stiles
Paddy Considine
Caroline Dhavernas
James Gilbert

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about

In the process of being divorced, Robert Forrester moves from the city to a suburban town in upstate New York. In his state of mind, he begins spying on his young neighbor, Jenny Thierolf. Coincidentally, she's in the process of breaking up with her boyfriend. One night Jenny spots Robert, comes out, and confronts him. Instead of calling the cops, she invites him in. From that point on, Jenny begins stalking him. Jenny's ex won't put up with this and comes after Robert, attacking him one night. Robert escapes, but shortly afterwards, the ex goes missing. The police suspect foul play, and guess who's their number-one suspect?

Is it good movie?

Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith (the same lady who wrote Strangers on a Train and created a little someone named Tom Ripley), THE CRY OF THE OWL already saw the big screen back in 1987, when French director Claude Chabrol took a stab at bringing the thriller to life. Leave it to us over 20 years later to do it again, this time with British filmmaker Jamie Thraves at the helm. After seeing this film, amongst the good things the word 'why' kept coming up, and not just because of the whole remake thing.

Julia Stiles has always been a good actress, though she's never stood out, in my opinion. She's easy to like in this film, exhuding a presence that's not exactly warm and inviting, but not threatening, either. It's all very subdued, which adds to the uncomfortable feeling you get from the character. Stiles' counterpart, Paddy Considine, is a bit of an enigma (more on that later). Paddy plays the dull and slightly cowardly character of Robert perfectly. Caroline Dhavernas expertly plays the manipulative wife of Robert (outshining Stiles in terms of presence at times), while James Gilbert is appropriately menacing as Jenny's former lover, Greg.

However, the question of 'why' cropped up pretty quickly for this thriller. Why are we supposed to like a character like Robert, when he really doesn't have much to like? I understand there's an amount of sympathy you have to have towards the guy, but it's hard to believe that he's supposed to be a sexy guy who has women falling over left and right. Rather, his appearance comes off as being someone women would avoid. Also, if this is supposed to be a thriller, why is there hardly any real tension to be found? Jenny's craziness kind of disappears as the film progresses, so that threat's gone. In spite of the many twists thrown your way, why is it easy to lose interest? None of these twists feel like they hold anything exciting, and seem to just exist to put the you off-guard and nothing more.

The film just doesn't have staying power, despite some good acting (questionable actor, aside) and consistent direction by Thraves. It just feels like a wasted opportunity for something more than a ho-hum thriller that doesn't exactly thrill. It's a shame, because like I said, the acting is great and the story is unique. It's not a bad film, just one that doesn't aspire to be more than what's on the screen.

Video / Audio

Video: The 2.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks good, with great colour and deep shadows that help to emphasize the atmosphere.

Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is solid, but not one to write home about. It lacks the punch that would make you jump or draw you in. Still, dialogue is clear and distortion-free.

The Extras

Aside from the startup trailers, NATHING!

Last Call

Another fire-and-forget film that unfortunately lacks any sort of staying power. CRY OF THE OWL does boast some great acting and intriguing story, but squanders it all. The audio/visuals are solid, but like the film, a lack of extras make it a waste.

ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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