Wednesday, 5 November 2014



I'm usually a sucker for a serial killer movie. Whether the focus is on the cops, FBI agents or other interested parties tracking down a homicidal maniac, or said maniac's ingenious methods and twisted motivations, I'm invariably far more interested than I am in a sloppy romantic comedy or an energetic youth musical. From slashers to police procedurals to unflinching psychological examinations of twisted minds, from The Silence Of The Lambs to He Knows You're Alone - my only real bugbear would be true crime movies in which I'm expected to enjoy details reconstructions and reenactments of real murders; you might as well put a laugh track on Crimewatch.

I didn't know The Alphabet Killer was (loosely) based on a real case from the 1970s: a killer specialising in young women with matching initials and leaving the bodies in towns beginning with the same letter (the film changes the names but retains the sequence of letters). But given that the film's lead detective routinely hallucinates the zombie-like spectres of the victims, it's questionable just how close to reality it actually is. One of the lead cops on the case suffers a complete mental collapse, plagued by visions of the dead girls. Years later she's demoted to a routine filing job in the records department, but the killer returns, as do the ghosts....

It's not a very good movie, but it does at least have a strong cast headed by Eliza Dushku (star of director Rob Schmidt's enjoyably gruesome TCSM cover Wrong Turn) as the obsessed cop. Cary Elwes and the always reliable Michael Ironside. So it's watchable enough, but it doesn't hang together as it feels the need for an inconclusive ending ("the killer was never caught"), and the killer's identity and the contrivances that lead Dushku to the final realisation don't really work dramatically because it's just too much of a coincidence. A routine, competent time-passer, but nothing more than that.



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