I once remember talking about the mind and thought process of supari killers with Ram Gopal Varma. He told me they treat it as any regular job. They get up in the morning, brush their teeth. shave, have breakfast with their wife and kids and leave for work.
Some such “normalcy” shrouds the murky misogynistic doings of the serial killer Peter, played with chilling casualness by Lukas Haas (remember him as the 8-year murder eyewitness in the Harrison Ford thriller?). Peter loves his wife, dotes on his daughter, gets into his truck at night and drives off to ‘work’, work being luring abducting raping or confining teenage girls.
Haas’ serial-killer act, replete with an underground cave where he chains and subjugates women, is a masterclass in normalised sociopathy. This is why nabbing him becomes tough. He seems so normal on the surface. But in this film the killer is known to us from the beginning. He has already snuffed the lives of many young women in Florida where the plot unfolds. The local police force has almost given up.
This is when Bruce Willis and Megan Fox enter the scene as two nosy FBI officers.This is where things get sticky, not only for the serial killer but also the script. Willis suddenly disappears from the scene. I wondered if he had been abducted by the killer.Just as mysteriously Willis returns to the script as if, after deciding to quit, he had second thoughts.
Maybe he fell out with the director or the cinematographer for not making him look as fetching as his co-star, Ms Fox who turns on the charm full-blast. At the start she plays a dishy decoy delivering a drug-dealing pimp (Colson Baker) some hard blows on his head and more delicate parts. Later, when she is abducted it is hard to believe this spirited woman could be so easily subjugated.
The glaring anomalies apart, the film delivers some solid suspenseful episodes, like the one where the imprisoned girl makes her escape and finds her way into a kindly old woman’s house putting both the ladies in danger. The killer Peter’s inquisitive little daughter provides just the right dose of antibody to her father’s toxic conduct.
This is not a serial-killer film to rival Psycho or Hannibal. But it has a certain slut-value. The killings and the probe have a sleazy shock-value. And Emile Hirsch as a troubled cop trying to track down a sex-trafficking gang,brings a welcome dose of gravity to the otherwise-puerile proceedings. But it is Lukas Haas as the serial killer who steals the show. I am not sure that’s a good thing.
Image source: IMDb