Thursday, May 22, 2003

Identity (IMDB) (Netflix)
It's another one of those dark and stormy nights, complete with an eleventh-hour stay-of-execution plea and a Bates-ish motel hosting an assemblage of mostly disagreeable ne'er-do-wells. The latter start dying at an alarming rate, of course, and the dwindling group of survivors (John Cusack, Ray Liotta and Amanda Peet, among others) are freaking out while they try to figure out who the killer is—before they're all dead. Then it gets weird.

Keep reading, though, because this is a first-class implementation of a second-tier genre, or at least an ambitious attempt. There's an extra layer here that doesn't become apparent until very late in the story, and that twist will either provoke the reaction of "mmmm, clever" or "not fair!" It may not be quite enough to sell people who never see this kind of film, but should work nicely for aficionados and would be a good introduction for those up for a little cinematic slumming.