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Identity

Starring: John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Clea Duvall, and John C. McGinley.
Directed by: James Mangold
Rated: R


 


Bluntly speaking? Identity is a suspenseful tale that whacks you upside the head with its delightfully different unfoldings.

The story goes…a group of folks find themselves thrown together thanks to one hell of a storm, a handful of odd coincidences and perhaps, fate. The roads are closed and the Inn is open. And by Inn, you need to picture a decrepit Bate's Motel-like pit with a creepy grungy Diner where the Earlybird special is the "lighter on the bubonic plague" omelet platter. Naturally these two delightful havens of horror are in the middle of Nowhere, USA.

The wary travelers are from all walks of life, and seem to be almost cartoons of their professions and titles...

There's the spoiled movie star and her verbally abused chauffeur. They are checking in because the chauffeur, Edward (John Cusack), has just driven into a woman (literally) thanks to the wicked celeb's verbal hail and of course the storm's wicked rains. With the roads out the motel was the closest respit.

Now the woman the chauffer accidently smashed, lay in shock in a schmaltzy room holding on to life by a narrow thread while her by-the-manual-like husband (John C. McGinley) and withdrawn spooky Damien-like child watch helplessly.

The storm gets wicked -er

Then there's the call girl (Amanda Peet) who just wants to get home and start fresh. Her car broke down and she was lucky enough to hitch a ride to this hell hole, er, refuge…

Checking in also is an odd bickering newlywed couple (Clea Duvall and William Lee Scott) that find themselves thanks to the horrible weather and so forth, stranded too.

Finally, on the guest list is a police officer (Ray Liotta) that was transporting a convict (Jake Busey) in need of shelter from the storm, when he happens to spot the motel.

He'll come in handy when the patrons of the dreaded Hitchcockian motel start being sliced and diced by some serial killer on the loose. A killer who is one step ahead of them and seems to have planned this little soiree of slaughter because oddly all these people have a couple things in common.

Yes, apparently the killer is one of the guests, or perhaps it's the weird office clerk, who's got a basket full-o-issues. This clerk may not have any stuffed birds hanging in his office, but what's that in his industrial sized freezer?

Identity is just wonderful. The whole group, lead by studmuffin John Cusack, deliver a remarkable script. It is remarkable in its refreshing uniqueness and genuine suspense factor. You'll be a good three-fourths into the story before any lights start to dawn in your mind. The plot is well guarded by its players.

John Cusack has picked another intelligent script (no I am not referencing that crapfest America's Sweethearts). I speak of last winter's clever Max which, apparently, was a tad too artsy because about ten people went and saw it - but Identity should be a big box-office smash for the lad. Why do I care? Because we (by we, I mean me) want more of the guy. A nonstop barrage of sixty-foot visual fixes would do it. And the more successful the film, the more scripts thrown his way, the more scripts in his big manly hands, the more chances of him accepting and thusly fulfilling my deep dark obsession with the tall scrumptious piñata of deliciously delectable manly bits!

Director James Mangold (<- love the name) and screenwriter Michael Clooney have managed to keep all the film's secrets till the right moment. The very end has a tad of a neat and semi-expected stitch which is as smooth as a ball of cheap cotton yarn, but the rest of the film is so well done who's picking? Enjoy.

Snack recommendation: Cheetos

DVD REVIEW:

Identity is phenomenal. Blending Film Noir, and Hitchcockian-like chills director James Mangold nailed it. The dvd is also well put together. The commentary with Mangold really shares the private world of film making. He misses nothing. As he said, there's a part where you, "Realize the movie is more then Col. Mustard in the drawing room with the candlestick" describing perfectly a pivotal scene. You'll find yourself re-watching scenes after he explains them (me at least) to really grasp the thought. So well done is the discussion it feels like a fancy film school seminar. The DVD also has a Starz special "On the Set" that explains without ruining the film wonderful "secret." Ah-dorable John Cusack explains it best as he says the cast are like pawns in a chess game, working from the plot as opposed to characters leading you to the plot...or something like that. Oh, the film? Genius. One of the smartest scripts in years. The cast? Scrumptiously delicious! Read above baby. Audiences didn't grasp this in the theaters- it disappeared...you have a chance t redeem yourselves now. Watch with the lights at a minimum for added suspense. Buy this immediately. See DVD details below film review.

 

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES:

Widescreen presentation
Director's Commentary
Storyboard Comparisons
Deleted Scenes
Starz Behind The Scenes Special
Scene Selections
Trailers
OPTION for branched version of film w/ alternative ending!


 

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