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STUDIO: Millennium Media Services
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
• Making of
An inconsistent and silly entry to the visually-impaired thriller genre.
Written and directed by Julian Magnat, starring Milla Jovovich, Julian McMahon, and David Atrakchi
A woman survives an attack from a serial killer but is left with “face-blindness,” a disorder that prevents her from recognizing faces – even the killer’s own mug.
Jovovich stars as Anna Merchant, an elementary school teacher happily balancing her relationship and an entertaining social life. Her and her merry band of tramp friends go clubbing, rating guys’ butts on a scale of 1-10. Oh, women. After the club it’s back home to Bryce (Michael Shanks), her boyfriend who she’s head over heels for. Everything is swimming along just fine until one fateful night Anna decides to walk home from the club rather than share a cab with her drunken friends.
She walks past a closed sidewalk and comes across what appears to be a couple getting in a quickie. “Young love, sigh” Anna probably thinks to herself. Then the man slits the woman’s throat and starts crying while humping the corpse. Anna’s frozen in fear and only snaps out of it when her cellphone rings. The killer pursues Anna, chasing her off the side of a bridge. She hits her head on the way down and somehow doesn’t die, drown, or break her back. Falling, Jovovich style.
Anna recovers, but can’t identify the killer because the knock on the head gave her prosopagnosia; a real disorder that affects people’s ability to recognize faces. It’s a devastating illness that can make strangers out of your loved ones. Like other visually-impaired protagonists in the thriller genre – Julia’s Eyes, Blink (why is it always women who can’t see shit?) – Anna’s impairment makes for a fun dramatic tool. When Anna sees someone, a different actor with the original actor’s voice dubbed over is used to demonstrate her “face-blindness.” The only person she always recognizes is Sam Kerrest (Julian McMahon), the detective in charge of handling Anna in the pursuit of the serial killer. She’s able to recognize him because Sam has distinctive facial hair and caterpillar eyebrows- an idiotic note that becomes an even more idiotic solution later on.
The “face-blindness” hook quickly devolves into a stupid and inconsistent annoyance. Why the hell can’t Anna recognize voices? Or body types? Or remember what her boyfriend is wearing? This is the worst kind of thriller – one that takes an interesting angle, in this case “face-blindness”, and inconsistently uses it in attempts to throw the audience for a loop. The angle works against the “suspense” here though and we’re able to stay several steps ahead of the killer and Jovovich. All of this tiresome actor-switching and thin “thrills” culminate in a weak climax and a painfully cheesy epilogue worthy only of a Lifetime original movie.
Jovovich enthusiastically throws herself into the role of Anna. Her performance at least compensates for something. She does a strong job for such lazy writing and acts convincingly confused throughout the film. Writer-director Julian Magnat (Bloody Mallory) seems to be confused himself – confused on how to build urgency and suspense from a plot that on the surface sounds ripe with the stuff. The film is totally devoid of intrigue, tension, and even some real insight into Anna’s condition. He wastes a gluttony of time on a completely useless subplot concerning Anna and Sam’s romance. This time should’ve been spent building a decent climax. Or baking cookies. Or anything else than what happened in the movie.
MAKING OF: Magnat talks about prosopagnosia and how he wanted to build a thriller around the condition. Him and the Jovovich talk about their approach to using doppelganger actors and the challenges that went along with that. Just like the film itself, there’s not anything juicy here.
Rating: Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars