Director: James Mangold
John C. McGingley/George
Freak fate leads ten strangers to be stranded in an isolated motel during a violent storm. Their unpleasant stay goes for the worse when they start checking out permanently at the hands of a mysterious assailant. And then it gets REALLY insane!
After seeing the "Identity" trailer once, I purposely avoided reading up on it and didn’t even hit the official site in the fear of having it spoiled for me. So I came into this movie with a fresher than a new boob job attitude and some hopes of getting whacked across the melon with potent genre surprises. So did this party girl jump out of the birthday cake, taking me aback while flashing her muffins? Read on …
"Identity" definitely had my horror-trained braincells working overtime for its first hour or so. By frame one, I was so into this flick...trying to piece it all together like an overzealous brat on too much sugar attempting to get that “Jenga” game to stand upright. I took the blocks from the bottom and put them on top non-stop, that’s fer damn sure! This "Horrorcoaster" ride just kept thrilling me over and over with its clever ideas (dug the “fate” element early on), its absorbing mystery and its gripping chain of events. It also helped that all these goodies were served up through a “snap that neck like a twig” pace, with a delicious dark atmospheric vibe galore coating it.
Character-wise, this baby was so on, with the strong actors behind the roles making them so much more engaging than they must have been on paper. I mean, can you really go wrong with Ray freakin' Liotta (Rhodes) jazzing up the scenery with his unique brand of edgy charisma? Not in my cannibalistic cook book; I love the dude to pieces and he rocked here as per usual.
SIDE NOTE: Today is a big day my friends; I finally come around to blessing Ray Liotta with the coveted moniker: “The Liotta”. After all those stellar performances over the years, including this badass one, he damn earned it. Pop open that champagne and get the crack whores in here! PARTY AT “THE LIOTTA’S” HOUSEHOLD!!!! END OF SIDE NOTE.
The same can be said about intense John Cusack (Ed), boner-inducing Amanda Peet (Paris) and always likeable John C. McGingley (George), who all owned this movie with their top notch talent. A bang-on cast, makes for more endearing characters which makes me care more about them, which raises the stakes of the action. So yes, more often than none, my eyes were glued to the screen like Ben Affleck's lips to J-Lo’s backside continent.
Throughout this trip, a couple of horror movies titles sprang into my head. Particularly "Final Destination", in terms of its “didn’t see that coming” kills. I expressed myself out loud verbally in the theatre at least twice, much to the dismay of that rambling mook sitting next to me. That’s a good thing! "Identity" also shifted momentarily into a slasher/whodunit mold and for some odd reason “I Know what you did Last Summer” echoed in my noggin. I know, I know, Arrow drinks too much Vodka…bare with me on this. The feel here just felt somewhat similar to that aforementioned flick in terms of mood and staging. Ironically, there’s actually a scene where Amanda Peet looks up, arms extended reaching for the rainy sky yelling “I give up; what do you want from us!” or something along those lines. Sound familiar? Maybe that was a purposeful wink to “IKWYDLS”, maybe not...you be the judge.
So I was living and feeling with this tale thus far; sure I didn’t care for Jake Busey (Robert) whom I found to be too “over the top” and got annoyed real fast by Clea Duvall’s (Ginny) constant whining and crying (just open the door yo), but I effortlessly let that stuff go. I was just having too much of a hoot-and-nanny to be bothered by the smaller grinds. But then the hammer was raised above my head threateningly; sadly for me my horror smarts was on to what was going down too early; and to add insult to injury, I didn’t like the idea one bit. In consequence, for the rest of the film, I perceived the narrative trying to lead me in various directions while picking up on how it was firmly taking the path that I feared it was taking.
When the hammer violently came down and my theory came through, I got semi-bummed out. Some of the themes and ideas that I felt closer to got negated in the process, while the investment I had in the characters, their relationships and the happenings dropped a few notches down the chart. What a shame! I was LOVING this experience, but they had to go “that way”! Having said that; I went along with it anyways (not much choice) and found myself to still be engaged (to a lesser degree) till the end. At least the movie wound up leaving me with a very gnarly final frame and I left the theater a happy camper.
Overall, "Identity" was a mucho slick time at the movies. It gave me some pure and high quality horror entertainment for most of its run. See it and make up your own minds on it! Will you identify with Identity?
Since most of the murders found here were kind of surprises, I won’t ruin them for ya. I will say that the film is very graphic...you’ll see some nasty fun stuff and lots of red. YIPPEE!
John Cusack (Ed) had a stillness and intensity that made him captivating here. NICE WORK! The Liotta (Rhodes) is a favorite of mine; he’s just so freakin' kool and I loved every second that he was on the screen. Love that man! LOVE THAT MAN! Amanda Peet (Paris) plays the hooker with the rack of gold and I bought it! Clea Duvall (Ginny) did what she had to do well, but her job was to cry constantly and grate my nerves. Rebecca DeMornay (Caroline) proved, once again, that she’s underrated as an actress and gave a formidable performance! Is it me or did her breasts get way bigger too? I love the new look Becky! Keep it John C. McGingley (George) gave a credible and strong show. He’s another favorite of mine. Jake Busey (Robert) didn’t really work for me; he played the psycho part too obvious for my liking. William Lee Scott (Lou) did good as the yelling and flirting duder. John Hawkes (Larry) hit the bull’s-eye as the “whore-hating” sleaze. Whoever cast this picture should get a cigar and box of Mars bars! WOW!
T & A
We boys get enough Amanda Peet and her “Peets” looking swell to last a lifetime (no nudie shots though). We also get some Rebecca DeMornay bobbling cleavage shots that hit the spot. God I love women! The ladies get The Liotta, looking like The Liotta that he is; that should suffice...no?
Mangold kept the accelerator pedal floored from the beginning till the end here. He also slapped in some slick quick cuts, effective freeze frames, some clever plays with the narrative time line and a wooing dark mood. It pleased my horror G-spot!
The score was adequately creepy and I appreciated the “Foo Fighters “ ditty that kicked in early on (great scene).
Identity sported an awesome cast, expert directing and a well written script. It sucked me in fast and hard and had me by the collar for most of its run time. Unfortunately, its eventual “revelation” lessened the film’s overall impact for me and didn’t live up to the expectations which the first hour built up within me. I truly believe that your full enjoyment of this picture will be defined by your like/dislike of the last highway it speeds down. I feel that I might give it a higher rating if I see it again, knowing from which game it plays from the start. Time will tell. On the whole though, see "Identity", it’s a highly amusing and involving stroll down horror lane and who knows…when she finally drops her panties down to her ankles, you might like what you see more than my pointy ass did. And…there’s always..."The Liotta". 'Nuff said on that…
James Mangold and Ray Liotta also worked together on "Copland".
"Identity" was written by Michael Cooney who also wrote Jack Frost 1 and 2.