Chris L. McKenna plays Sean, who seems, at first, to be a typical slacker, working nothingjobs. He is hired by Daniel Baldwin (doing a very fine dissolute turn) first to watch atroublesome city hall accountant (whose wife — Kari Wuhrer — McKenna falls for), then to killhim. McKenna agrees with surprisingly little reluctance. He has a falling out with Baldwin andhis associates (including a brutal George Wendt), and they beat him to within an inch of the life,the idea being to indu…e such brain damage that he won’t remember them. The planbackfires.
Questions hover for the first half hour: is Sean stupid? Are we supposed to feel sympathyfor him, given that he murders an innocent man for thirteen grand? And then, gradually, allbecomes clear: Sean has no conscience. He’s a psychopath, one of the most convincing portrayedon-screen in recent memory. Charles Higson adapted his own novel and switched the settingfrom England to the States with nary a seam showing. Director Stuart Gordon, best known forthe cheery gore of Re-Animator, From Beyond and the like, here plays hismaterial straight, and goes for a raw, frequently hand-held approach. The result is disturbing andpowerful, and just possibly his best film.
The sound is only 2.0, but a 5.1 mix isn’t hugely missed, as there simply isn’t much surroundto be had, period. The music, however, sounds terrific (the score has a groovy, sinister funk toit). The dialogue is clear and undistorted.
The film is raw in both approach and look. This means that the colours tend to bleach in thesun and skin tones are splotchy. This looks more like an artistic decision (making a virtue outof a low budget) than a transfer problem, however. There is a bit of grain, but no visibleedge enhancement.
Gordon, McKenna and Wendt handle the commentary, which covers plenty of behind-the-scenes information. Interestingly, the idea for the project originated with Wendt, who first fellhard for Higson’s novel. The featurette is low key as these things go, but is still promotional. Thetrailer is here too, along with trailers for a handful of other releases. The menu is scored.
Excellent work all around. What a tight, nasty little piece of work this is.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Making-of Featurette