Saturday, December 13, 2008

Starring: Jeff Fahey, Brad Dourif, Zakes Mokae
Writer/Director: Eric Red

Synopsis: A criminal psychologist played by Fahey is involved in a horrific car accident that causes him to lose his arm. His wife agrees to a groundbreaking new surgery where a donor's arm is grafted to him in place of the one he lost. As the healing process kicks into gear, the arm begins to seemingly take on a personality of it's own, with abusive and violent behavior resulting. After some investigation, Fahey's character discovers that the arm came from an executed death row inmate responsible for more than 20 murders in cold blood. What he eventually discovers is a much larger conspiracy where he faces off against the face of evil as he had never seen it before.

Review: Before Jeff Fahey starred in the Lawnmower Man, he was cast in this little seen classic. I don't recall how it was critically received, but given the director's previous credits I would suspect not favorably. Having previously written Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark and Blue Steel films, both very different types of character studies, as well as penning the 1986 horror/suspense touchstone (can we just act as though the 2007 atrocity never happened?), the Hitcher starring Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell, and a young albeit incredibly sexy Jennifer Jason Leigh, Eric Red not only wrote this thinker, but also directed.

I call the movie a thinker, because it is extremely dialog driven, and far more contemplative than a good deal of the rest of Red's work, dealing with issues as broad as medical experimentation and metaphysical questions regarding where the true nature of a person's being lie. Having not watched this film for a long period of time, I had forgotten how well played each part was, even Fahey, who I generally loathe, was an excellent casting choice (and wouldn't play as good a part again until Robert Rodriguez' Planet Terror opposite Michael Biehn). How each member of the cast played off each other is really what blows me away about this film. Brad Dourif is as over the top as he typically is, though I perceive he aproached his role here a bit more naturally than he does with many of his parts, and Zakes Mokae pretty much plays himself, a fine thing since he can fit his persona into any movie this caliber and show it off as natural. On another note regarding the actors, Paul Ben-Victor has an exceptionally short role, but manages some of the most convincing dialog during the opening moments of the film.

I can't put my finger on exactly what it is about this flick that I love, or why I was so compelled to buy this upon finding it at FYE earlier tonight. More than likely because as serious as the film gets in it's tone, it's also not afraid to be a bit campy and melodramatic at the same time. The actors have a great chemistry and it's an obvious labor of love for Eric Red, as he has managed to set up each respective scene elaborately and convincingly. The gore is infrequent and far between, but what red is splashed is particularly effective for that very reason. Like the more recent Eastern Promises, the violence and disturbing images on display manage to shock us more and be much more effective for that very reason, and while I would never think to liken Red to Cronenberg, the sensibility is the same.

I highly recommend this film... I would call it a sleeper for its time, though that would imply hit, and the following for this film is still exceptionally small. It's not perfect, but few movies are, and for what it is there really isn't anything in its class that can beat it. Seriously, check it out.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Fahey rules. He was once the king of Skinemax straight to video stuff. his lips bother me, but I gained max respect for him after his BBQ slinging turn in Planet Terror. "The secret ingredient is blood! I'll be damned!"