20. Identity (2003)

All in good bloody time

Directed by: James Mangold
Written by: Michael Cooney
Starring: John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet

Ten strangers find themselves stranded at a motel due to serious stormy weather and flooding. One of them happens to be a convicted killer. Uh oh. He got away and people are being killed off one by one. Seems like a straightforward story … until suspicion starts pointing its finger at the other lodgers. Or maybe it isn’t plain and simple murder. We are after all on Indian burial grounds, and if you’ve seen The Shining, you’ll know what that can do to some people.

Spotting the killer is a pretty tricky business

James Mangold’s Identity is a psychological thriller that stands on a golden idea. With a clever opening that accumulates the smallest details together to explain the fatalistic meeting of these strangers, Identity sucks you in from the very beginning with that sense of impending doom we all love when it comes to people screaming and dying in movies. I mean, come on, there’s a crazy storm outside – no escape from a dingy motel equals perfect murder scene, right? But just when we think Identity uses every done and tried technique in the horror genre, it proves that it’s more than just lame reveals of dead bodies. Strange twists and turns serve to peak our interest and curiosity even though the question is the same old ‘Who’s the killer amongst us?’ routine.

While the writing may make for a great thriller, the visual version doesn’t seem to be able to keep up with the ideas. The pace, the acting and the visual direction of the movie seems a lot more tame and predictable in contrast to what is essentially a disturbing and chilling story. If the movie had heightened the suspense and fear factor of the killings and made the twists and turns a little more absurd or bizarre, Identity would have found a match made in heaven for story and production.

Despite this, Identity isn’t your average thriller. The plot is exciting and with a cool and collected John Cusack around you can rest assured that this isn’t some B-grade job.


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