01 February, 2009

"The Alphabet Killer" Film Review


Within the drama of The Alphabet Killer lies a true story, and you cannot help but feel a churning in your stomach when you realize that those brutalities actually happened to some young girls in the real world.

The Alphabet Killer is a thriller movie directed by Rob Schmidt in 2008. It is based on the true stories of the murders in Rochester, New York during the late 1970’s. It stars Eliza Dushku, Cary Elwes, Michael Ironside, Bill Moseley, and Timothy Hutton.

(Contains Slight Spoilers.)


The movie immediately opens with a foray into an abduction of a young girl. It’s haunting enough, and certainly disturbing. Most of the film’s atmosphere is constantly grim, which is admittedly apt since raping and murdering several girls is obviously not a light subject. The Alphabet Killer is an effective movie, as in it is satisfactory in its cinematography, sounds, lighting, special effects, and the characters do have the ability to intrigue the audience. The shaky camera, gloomy air, and eerie music does add a lot to the feel, it resembles the film Zodiac, but modern and bluer, if that makes sense. Eliza Dushku as Megan Paige, the protagonist, fits into her role like it was made just for her. She plays the damaged, earnest detective more than well, and she gives a hauntingly sympathetic performance as we follow her character’s roller coaster ride into an absolute hysteria and mental breakdown. Mucho kudos to her. However, I wasn’t particularly impressed with Cary Elwes, who plays Kenneth Shine. I’ve never even been to New York, and I can tell how horrendous his accent was with his British slant shining through occasionally. The other cast members also give their fair share of brief, yet exceptional performances.

The Alphabet Killer may come off as a supernatural horror flick when you judge it by its promos, posters, and trailers. And although it does spook its audience once in a while, the “spirits” that we see are actually an insight into the mind of a schizophrenic. Those ghostly apparitions seemed to only serve to douse the film with some actual horror and thrill factor. Still, it was impressive how those apparitions blurred the lines between realism and supernaturalism so that the audience can go with either way. Like I said, I think The Alphabet Killer is an effective movie. It delivers a good amount of thrill and realism that audiences may engage themselves in, and it has a story that is truly worth knowing about. However, the film has its share of errors in being an affective movie. A story about a serial killer raping and murdering several young girls can certainly affect a person, but with Megan Paige’s distracting schizophrenic delusions, the main theme of the film somewhat gets deluded as well. It’s a struggle to pinpoint exactly what those hallucinations are supposed to tell us, if it’s supposed to tell us anything.

Overall, the Alphabet Killer is a satisfactory film. It was like a two hour cop tv show episode (and I happen to really like cop tv shows), only a bit more intense, a bit more interesting, a bit more creepy, and just a bit more everything. Extra kudos again to the actors, specifically Eliza Dushku. The only thing that I prominently disliked about the Alphabet Killer was the ending, and no, it’s not just because of the fact that I’m a sucker for happy endings. But the last few scenes of the film had the potential to be an ultimately heart pounding conclusion, instead, it was a total cop out that harshly teased its audiences to wait for a sequel. Which begs the question, is the sequel worth watching? Sure, we want to see how our tortured heroine would finally fight her persistently creepy demons, and we definitely want to see the bad guy die a horrible, horrible, horrible death, but my spite for the cop out ending might just convince me not to watch the second film at all. Yeah, I was that pissed.

Oh, who am I kidding?

I want to see the bad guy die a horrible, horrible, horrible death.

Megan is trying to calm a gun-wielding man down.
Megan: You know what they're calling this out there? Hostage situation.
Glen: Those Fucking bastards!
Megan: You know what I see? An argument. Does that make sense?
Glen: (quietly) Yes
Megan: And what do you think Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: (indignant) He tried to rape me!
Megan stares at her.
Elizabeth: Which, I guess, led to an argument.

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