Director: Henry Miller
Five years ago Detective Aubrey (Dafoe) shot serial killer “Uncle Eddy” dead. So, who the hell is killing folks in grisly fashion using Uncle Eddy’s M.O. today? Is it a copycat? Some other loon? Or is Uncle Eddy back for seconds? Place your bets!
The moment I saw the fly ANAMORPH trailer, I didn’t need to know more; I just hunted the f*cker down. I mean it stars the great Willem Dafoe and it’s an edgy serial killer movie – what else can a genre nut want out of one's pitiful life? Now that I stalked it, found it, chopped it to bits and buried it in my back yard, here’s the verdict.
I enjoyed ANAMORPH on very basic levels. There’s a mysterious killer that offs people in mucho flamboyant ways and there’s a cop, with a yowzer bowl haircut, trying to nab him while boozing left and right (great man). Right there, they had me! Yup, I was quickly reeled in by the initial set up, warmed up to depressed and loving it Dafoe fairly quickly and for an hour or so, my poor excuse for a brain was working in overtime trying to solve the mystery before the lead did (I didn’t succeed by the way – kind of impossible). So yeah, I was entertained and into it no doubt.
It also helped matters that the film’s mature shooting style (controlled and lots of plays on texture) and dread filled cinematography offered up a dreary yet hypnotizing world. This baby looked morbid good! Add to that competent supporting actors (Scott Speedman was on the ball! Wish there was more to his part), some yuck GORY crime scenes, left field plot turns that kept me on my toes and a nifty gimmick as to the killer’s methods (he uses body parts to reproduce famous art AND takes the time to set up forced-perspective tricks to give out clues to boot) and I had enough good joo-joo to call this sit down time well spent.
Unfortunately, for all the top notch shite at play, the "cliched within the subgenre" screenplay just didn't match up. Aside from Dafoe’s role, the characters were paper thin at best, either there to serve as plot devices or red herrings. Redundancy kicked in lightly near the middle too. I get it; the mook-loon kills, the cop shows up at the crime scene, finds the clues, he then drinks (yes again, great man) until the nut goes to work again. Can the story evolve already? And that was actually my main problem with the flick. It presented itself as serial killer party that should’ve had more meat to it than the norm in terms of it lead, his relationships and his back-story. Alas aside from a couple of efficient style heavy flashbacks (dug those vertical lines in the frame jive) and some money performance choices by Mr. Dafoe; the flick didn’t give me enough substance to fully satisfy. It pretended it did, but it didn’t.
So the result was this. I tripped out to ANAMORPH while I watched it, grooved to Dafoe's meticulous showcase and was back-handed by the arresting visuals. But once it was all over and whored with, I couldn’t say that much of the movie stayed with me. Don't get me wrong now, this was by no means a bad film, quality was in the house left and right. If only the story had more to offer than the usual serial killer opus 1-2-3… if only. Anamorph this!
Most of it was after the fact grub, but don’t let that bum you out. Chopped off limbs, severed heads, human remains staged as art pieces, all kinds of blood and guts… you’d think this psycho was trained at the Hellraiser School of Pinhead.
It’s always a treat for me to witness Willem Dafoe (Stan) in a lead role. He brings nuances and depth to his roles, even if it’s not on the written page. Here was no exception – he WAS the film for me. Scott Speedman (Carl) played Brad Pitt in SEVEN and very well at that. I like the dude and his beard had Oscar written all over it. Not sure “why” Peter Stormare (Blair) was in the movie (aside from acting as a potential suspect) but he’s always a hoot to watch. Clea DuVall (Sandy) played Clea DuVall…again.
T & A
No whip cream on this snatch! Had to eat it dry!
The flick was refreshingly shot old school. The camera was steady and the shots slow and precise. The oppressive atmosphere and the dreary locations hit hard as well. This wasn’t a “happy” world and that made me VERY “happy”. Why? Ask my shrink!
We get a morose piano oriented score that fit this film’s RIP bill perfectly.
ANAMORPH almost hit the jackpot. It put out a strong initial premise, a stellar actor in the lead, powerful downbeat imagery and some nasty gory goods. But the screenplay was lacking in my useless opinion, it didn’t really go further than your run of the mill, post SEVEN serial killer jamboree – and that’s okay with some films – just not this one - it SHOULD’VE BEEN more! With that said, throughout my watch, I kept thinking: director Henry Miller has a horror masterpiece in him – it's evident in the skillful way he tackled this one. Horror art in motion baby! And I personally can’t freaking wait to see it!
Anamorph is Henry Miller's first feature.
The flick was shot in New York City, New York, USA.
Willem Dafoe's first role was in Kathryn Bigelow's "The Loveless."
Willem Dafoe is married and has a son named Jack.