Reviewed by: Dave Murray
What's it about
After losing her brother to the games of the psychotic "Riddle Killer", a troubled cop (Waddell) races to save an even more troubled grad student (Blucas) and his mysterious childhood friend, who just may be R'K''s next victims. But is Kevin really the victim?
Is it good movie?
I'll admit, right from the opening this one had generic written all over it. It seemed to me to be nothing more than a luke warm Saw rip-off, and the fact that this was a "Christian" thriller flick (being the first film from the new Christian family friendly Fox Faith) just kind of sat poorly in my stomach. I was thinking "Oh god, this is going to be the butchering of the genre". Or at least the neutering.
But then a funny thing happened. I found myself enjoying the performances and the story, despite the fact that both were derivitive and the movie seemed edited with the finesse of an epileptic butcher. Lack of narrative flow aside, it was the twist near the end of this flick that made it stand out. Sure, we've seen the twist a thousand times before, but this time it was at least mildly entertaining. The exploration of good and evil leads our hero Kevin, played very woodenly by Marc Blucas of Buffy fame, down a nasty psychological path, with a heavy dose of examination caused by his seriously f**ked up childhood. The whole angle of the killer driving him to confess his sins was interesting, if a bit preachy at times. The cop, played by Justine Waddell, was nothing great and not a big help in the protection department, but let's face it, this girl is just infinitely watchable. She even made Dracula 2000 bearable. Add to these two the addition of Canadian hottie Laura Jordan (who was annoying but at least added some emotional drive to the flick), and you've got an okay and competent cast. Too bad the source material (from an excellent novel by Ted Dekker) was butchered to make this safe and friendly thriller. Those words just shouldn't be in the same sentence.
The major highlight here is yet another impressive performance by genre character actor and all around chameleon Bill Moseley, who this time turns out a low key performance with only a small amount of the menace that he's capable of. Sadly, he wasn't given much to do in this one, because I love watching this guy go off on screen. Much like his Devil's Rejects co-star Sid Haig, Moseley is an underused horror actor who is finally getting his due, and he is in much better fare than this one. The effects are a little sad (I mean seriously, there are better flame effects in kid's movies these days), the direction by Robby Henson and script by Alan McElroy (the live action Spawn stinker) are both a little paint-by-numbers, and the final message of the story (that to understand good and evil you have to have God in your life) is a little too heavy handed for my tastes.
In short, it was an okay thriller for what it was, with some predictible turns and a nice twist ending, with some good actors who were sadly underused here. My thing is, if you're going to make Christian themed films, stick to dramas and family fare like safe comedies and romances and kid flicks. Leave the horror/thriller genre alone. Please?
Video / Audio
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen - 2.35:1.
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1) and subtitles in English and Spanish.
We get a Trailer for this and some other Ted Dekker and Frank Perretti adaptations.
Definately not what I was expecting, and in the hands of a more competent director and stripped of it's "safe" factor, this could have been a great flick. I hope Henson's upcoming House fares better, because this was a mildly entertaining example of the misuse of genre resources, especially in the case of Bill Moseley. All of the ingredients were there, but sadly the movie set out to offend or shock no one, with the sole exception of portraying mental illness in a silly and insulting way. It was an okay way to kill 100 minutes, but ultimately forgettable. And please, no more Christian horror flicks, they are about as needed and relevant as Christian heavy metal. Yep, that's right. Not at all.