22 January 2015



German Title:
Alphabet Killer

USA, 2008
Director: Rob Schmidt


After the success of "Wrong Turn" [I'm not a big fan of it, but everyone else seems to love it, and I guess that's okay] and well-received episodes for horror TV series "Masters of Horror" ("Right to Die") and "Fear Itself" ("The Spirit Box")
[I loved them both], director Rob Schmidt was hailed as the horror genre's next big thing. Unfortunately, his career went completely downhill afterwards:
his follow-up feature "The Alphabet Killer" became a critical and commercial flop, the planned Stephen King adaptation "Insomnia" never came to fruition, and the production of the horror comedy "Bad Meat" was so troubled that Schmidt left the director's chair - and maybe even the film business because he hasn't directed anything since. Sad.

I may be not the biggest fan of his features, but there was something about his work that made me curious about any project he was attached to. I felt he had (has) the ability to create something great. When I first heard about "The Alphabet Killer", I was intrigued because it sounded so, so good. Loosely based on the Alphabet murders that took place between 1971 and 1973 in the Rochester, New York area, the movie follows a mentally fragile detective who investigates in a mysterious case where three young girls were raped and strangled; each of the girls' first and last names started with the same letter and each body was found in a town that had a name starting with the same letter as each girl's name...

Unfortunately, this excellent concept was executed in a bland, lackluster, unexciting and IMMENSELY predictable way, not just because of Schmidt's strangely haphazard direction (as if he had difficulties deciding what kinda movie he wanted to make), but also because of Tom Malloy's awkward writing. Hell, the script feels more like a sloppy re-interpretation of Friedrich D├╝rrenmatt's "The Pledge", packed with far-fetched and quite feeble-minded plot points / twists, and the killer is so badly obvious, I figured it out within the first couple of minutes.
I won't spoiler it, but... well, pay attention during the opening credits and you might figure it out too. It's easier than you think!

"The Alphabet Killer" isn't boring due to some tight pacing, neat 90s-like atmosphere, many beautifully filmed locations, a couple of effective scares and some decently tense scenes, but... I don't know. The whole thing is neither fish nor fowl. The cast consists of veteran actors and genre legends like (the above-mentioned) Timothy Hutton, Cary Elwes, Bill Moseley or Michael Ironside who all deliver solid performances, but to me, they all felt either miscast, or unsure about what they're doing here. Main actress Eliza Dushku is a beauty who tries hard to act the shit out of herself. Unfortunately, she's not the most gifted/talented actress in the world, and the harder she tries, the more ridiculous it looks. Her character is supposed to be a delusional and unstable person, but afer a while, it looks more like a freaking parody.

In addition, some supposed-to-be-creepy-but-not-creepy-at-all CGI ghost girls, uninspired music and an odd unhappy ending that tries hard to make the audience go "Oh, how shocking!", but only left me shrugging. Meh? Meh.


  1. It is a really good cast - and I did like Wrong Turn...so I might be checking this out one of these days...


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