Apr 302003
Authors: Eric Todd Patton

With an ever-increasing number of scary movies being released, each one tries to top the next with frightening images and intelligent twists. The problem with classifying a movie as “a scary movie” is that there are some movies that make you jump (“House On Haunted Hill”) and others that are eerie (“The Sixth Sense”), yet I only consider the former to be “a scary movie.”

The new John Cusack film, “Identity,” is the latter. This is an eerie, creepy film with moments of cheap physical scares, but most of all it lies in the psychological realm of our fears.

“Identity” begins almost like a surrealist piece loaded with extended metaphor and meaningful imagery, where a rainstorm that has flooded the roads in all directions traps a group of strangers, leaving a secluded motel the only place of refuge.

When a washed-up actress, played by Rebecca DeMornay, goes missing and a prisoner, played by Jake Busey, escapes, the stage is set for this bloody thriller. One by one the guests of the motel are killed and suspicions rise as each person points the finger at the other.

Once bodies go missing the strangers are forced to figure out why they have been thrown together, which ignites the burners on a fast paced and twisting plot as they search for their own identity.

“Identity” is more intelligent and surprising than “The Sixth Sense.” Screenwriters James Mangold and Michael Cooney have masterfully created one of the most stylish thrillers to be seen in American cinema.

This is the performance of Pruitt Taylor Vince’s (“Simone”) career. If you did not know this Vince before, you will now. His brief and powerful role in “Identity” proves he is one of the more talented supporting actors in Hollywood.

Does Cusack ever let us down? He takes this difficult script and controls it, holding on and setting the pace for the entire cast. In watching the film, it does not seem like he does anything “above and beyond,” but the lead of this film could have easily let the script get away from him.

John C. McGinley (“Office Space”), a veteran supporting actor now seen on T.V’s “Scrubs,” took his small role and made it his own. This man is incredible because as he plays role after role he continues to make deliberate character choices that make him almost unrecognizable from movie to movie.

I wish I could tell you more. I wish I could give an analysis of everything that happened and how incredible it was that the director (Mangold) pulled off the twisting end. But I cannot, for it will give away too much. You should go into this film knowing nothing more than what I have told you, otherwise its atmosphere will be ruined.

I can say this; go see it. Do not expect a scary movie like “The Ring,” as you may have heard from the television previews. This is suspenseful and tense. Besides some casting errors (like Rebecca DeMornay and Clea DuVall) and small character complications early on, this is what all thrillers should aspire to become.

Starring; John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, John C. McGinley, Jake Busy and Pruitt Taylor Vince.

Directed By; James Mangold

What You Need To Know; More intelligent and masterfully written than “The Sixth Sense.”


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