Friday, February 22, 2008

Shadow Of A Scream (1997)

Before Mystic River, before Gone Baby Gone, Before The Departed, there was Shadow Of A Scream. Dare I say this is the definitive Boston crime thriller? Nah, I'm just kidding. Other than the brief mention that this thing takes place in Boston, or in parts around, there really isn't any way to tell that this takes place in beantown. Oh, sure, the finale takes place in a lighthouse, so it at least invokes New England at one point. Also, the cast members in this thing should never have the word "definitive" anywhere near their names (unless we're discussing television shows about bouncing jugs or thirtysomethings).

Actually, forget that. This is the definitive David Chokachi (Baywatch) film. It's not the definitive Timothy Busfield (Thirtysomething) picture, however. That distinction, of course, lies with Revenge of the Nerds. I want to say that it's most certainly the definitive Athena Massey film, but then I checked IMDB and realized she was in Red Shoe Diaries 9: Slow Train. This picture also stars Cyril O'Reilly (Patrick Swayze's Black Dog).

So, what's it about? A serial killer is loose in the Greater Boston area. A killer who finds his victims in personal ads geared towards S&M (this was before Craigslist "casual encounters", so I imagine this guy had his work cut out for him). This guy is kinda sick. One near victim recalls how he put his knife against his own penis and it wasn't even erect, so clearly this guy is disturbed. The first victim is found in a wooded park, stuffed in a garbage can. She was assaulted, sexually, violently, and violently sexually. Chokachi plays Darren Metlick, the #1 suspect. Why? Famed criminal psychologist Matthew Grissom (Busfield) explains that he's a loner with a history of abuse. Therefore, guilty. It's up to detective Alice Redmond (Massey) to go under cover and try to stop him. Also, on the side of good is detective Don Holy-rod (O'Reilly) who is also Redmond's lover. When I say lover, I mean that Holy-rod likes to take Redmond from behind while pulling on her hair. But he's ok because as Redmond says "you know the great thing about you Don? You stop when I say no." Or does he? Don is the red herring (or is Metlick the red herring?) of the picture. The only thing I know is that, regardless of who the killer is, both of these dudes are pretty sick fucks.

The picture does a pretty decent job of fooling us. I was convinced for a while that Don was the killer and that perhaps Metlick was just misunderstood. Sure, he likes to fuck with a knife to his girls throat or tits or whatever, but, I don't know, I'm sure there are girls into that sort of thing. He just needs to look harder. There's a lineup scene early on involving Metlick, but they need one more guy, so the captain orders Don in there. Guess who the old bag (witness) picks? It's clear that Don and Darren are both sexual deviants (at one point, I even wondered if they worked together). There's a classic scene where Don's advances are spurned by Redmond, so he drives to the park (murder site) in a drunken stupor. It's midnight, so the park is empty, except, except....for a midnight female jogger in a blue jumpsuit. Women have been murdered there, dismembered, raped, etc, but it's perfectly safe to jog there after dark.

Anyway, the subsequent autopsy is a classic in the autopsy oeuvre. First of all, the women in the blue jumpsuit isn't even dead yet. She's breathing quite rapidly, but that doesn't stop the examination from commencing. They discover a carving on her stomach and Grissom claims "my friends, this is our rosetta stone. Figure out what it is and we can catch a killer". Um, the killer has the same carving on his stomach. Wouldn't that be pretty easy to find out?

For a direct to video feature I've certainly seen worse (The Triggerman for example). Some of the camera work was actually pretty good, especially Redmond's shower scene (with the camera focusing on her from above). The acting is atrocious, but in this film's defense there's certainly worse out there (Triggerman for example). I loved the "suspenseful" finale at the lighthouse, especially the killer's ridiculously facile death scene. This isn't really a Boston crime drama. Accents aren't even attempted. Aside from the lighthouse, we don't really get any sense of location. There is some nudity, but unfortunately most of the breasts have a knife to them. It's kind of like a reverse Basic Instinct the more that I think about it with Massey standing in for Douglas, Chokachi for Sharon Stone and, I guess, that would mean big ol' George Dzunda is O'Reilly (although that creates the image in my head of Dzunda taking Douglas from behind). Oh, and obviously Busfield is Jeanne Tripplehorn. Seriously, this picture is terrible. Dust off your VCRs and check it out.

7 comments:

steve said...

It's one additional sign of the, um, limits of David Chokachi's thesbian abilities that he couldn't do a convincing Boston-area accent even if he tried - and he's from Plymouth! Spent all of the late '80s, early '90s drunk as a skunk in every Boston watering-hole where he wasn't likely to get his pretty face all mussed up!

Still, on the late, lamented TV show 'Witchblade,' he DOES do a convincing job of getting the absolute snot beaten out of him - not once but twice, both times by the same character, both times filmed so slowly and intimately that ... well, certain intuitions were unavoidable ...

steve said...

So, Brian: ready for another gem? Or should I call it zirconium?

brian said...

Steve, I'm always ready for another gem. I will be watching 'Nothing to Lose' this weekend!

steve said...

Ah, 'Nothing to Lose'! If you figure out what the PLOT is - or if there's one at all - let me know! And aren't we supposed to LIKE the hero? Just WATCHING him made me want to get a Hep-C booster shot ...

Beepy said...

WTF! I go away for one week and all of a sudden you start cranking out the reviews. Four in one week! I'm beginning to think that my presence in our fair city distracts you more than you'll admit. I expect that from Elmo, of course, but you?

I guess I'll check out Stevereads and see if he missed me.

Beepy said...

Wow, him too! So much love!

steve said...

Beepy, I hate to point out the obvious, but it was your ABSENCE we loved!

BING! Thanks, folks! Try the veal!