Published June 27, 2003
However, the film soon snaps out of this, and we seem to enter familiar horror film territory. It’s all here, a rain soaked motel, a serial killer on the loose, an Indian graveyard, a spooky kid and, of course, the obligatory whiners with gruesome deaths written all over them. But then the twists just keep on coming, yet this is neither Pet Cemetery meets Psycho, nor The Sixth Sense meets Pulp Fiction. It’s more like a combination of the four.
Ray Liotta seems, like his other co-stars from Goodfellas, to have boycotted good films since then, so it’s refreshing to see him in something that isn’t absolutely dreadful. Rebecca De Mornay doesn’t survive long, but Amanda Peet, after this and the excellent Changing Lanes, might turn out to be something more than just another pretty blonde. John Cusack is one of the most dependable actors of the last decade, and this might not be one of his highlights, but neither is it a disappointment. And director James Mangold makes the film he probably should have made right after Copland.
Five minutes before the ending, I found myself really liking the film. The biggest plot twist of all turns out to be the idea that the clinically insane should not be executed, which is a somewhat revolutionary idea in a Hollywood film. But then we get one plot twist too many, and of course said insane person, on his way to the hospital, starts killing people, giving you once more the tried and tested moral that the criminally insane should be killed off right away, preferably without trial, since any attempt to give them a second hearing will undoubtedly lead to slaughter. Disappointing, then, at the very end, but until then, considerably better than your average fare.