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Identity (2003)

The mind can play tricks

Directed by:

James Mangold

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 90 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

Country: United States

Why do you never seem to get good ol' fashioned whodunit's anymore? Probably because all those episodes of "Murder She Wrote" left us all pig-sick of them. So you'll no doubt be relieved to hear that, while "Identity" is in many ways straight out of Jessica Fletcher's casebook, it's also very, very different indeed.

Two simultaneous plot lines – without giving anything away here – are thrown together in mind-blowing style. The main story revolves around 10 complete strangers – among them John Cusack, Ray Liotta and Rebecca De Mornay – thrown together in a dingy motel and unable to leave because of the monsoon conditions outdoors. Doesn't sound like such a bad situation, you might think – just get a room for the night and head off when the storm dies down and the roads are clear. The trouble is, one by one they're being picked off in particularly brutal fashion. It's pant-pooing stuff.

Meanwhile, in a dimly-lit office elsewhere, a late appeal hearing is underway to decide the fate of tubby serial killer Malcolm Rivers (Pruitt Taylor Vince). The docs say he needs psychiatric help, not the death sentence – but to win their case they've got to prove it. That's the legal system for you, eh?

As you'd expect, director James Mangold and writer Michael Cooney lead you to suspect pretty much everyone of the motel killings at one point or another. All that's missing is for Columbo or the afore-mentioned Ms Fletcher to pop up and solve the whole thing without as much as breaking sweat. But when the reality of the situation eventually unfolds, it truly is a twist and a half.

The killings aren't particularly graphic, but several scenes are certainly tense enough to work their magic on any embarrassing cinema screamers out there (come on, own up, you know who you are).

It's Got: More than enough twists to keep you guessing.

It Needs: Your full attention to make sure you don’t miss any of those clues.

Alternatives:

Psycho, Ten Little Indians

Summary

An impressive, well-acted horror mystery with a superbly-woven plot device. It’ll get you thinking, that’s for sure.

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