Stuff I Watch in October: Identity (2003)

Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.

Please enjoy and leave a comment!

And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Psycho (1960)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Halloween (1978)
Alien (1979)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Halloween III – Season of the Witch (1982)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Aliens (1986)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Predator (1987)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
They Live (1988)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Predator 2 (1990)
The Addams Family (1991)
Alien 3 (1992)
Army of Darkness (1992)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Crow (1994)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Scream (1996)
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Scream 2 (1997)
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Scream 3 (2000)
28 Days Later (2002)
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
The Ring (2002)
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Our next film is…

WATCHING: Identity (2003)


DIRECTOR: James Mangold, who just slips under the radar with surprise after surprise. He directed the fantastic Girl, Interrupted, the outstanding Western remake, 3:10 to Yuma, and also gave us Logan, one of the most artsy comic book films I’ve ever seen.

WHAT IS IT?: Identity is an insanely suspenseful murder mystery that keeps you guessing until the very final — and disturbing — frame.

THE PLOT: As an insane murderer is being escorted to a courthouse to be tried for his crimes, ten strangers end up stranded at a roadside motel during a massive storm. Everything seems fine until grisly murders begin to occur. As the body count piles up, the survivors at the motel begin to suspect one other — completely unaware that forces beyond their control are at work and that they’re all somehow involved.

WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: Identity got mostly positive reviews. My favorite was from Roger Ebert who said that he’d seen most films that are outstanding for the first two acts before they go on auto-pilot. This movie was the opposite where you think the movie is on auto-pilot for the first two acts — then reveals, in the third, that it wasn’t — and the final frame is just devious.


WHAT DID I THINK?: Identity took me by surprise when I first saw it. Less horror than it is a murder mystery (one which REALLY apes Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None), the film has legs.

Written by British playwright Michael Cooney and directed by James Mangold, the movie is all atmosphere and suspense, with plot twists which keep you guessing up until the big reveal…and, even then, you’re not sure which way is up.

Mangold was lucky to have a top-notch cast in John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Alfred Molina, Amanda Peet, John Hawkes, Rebecca De Mornay, John McGinley, and a slew of other seasoned actors. Yes, they play stock characters — but there’s a reason for this, which I cannot and will not get into.

My only gripe is that the audience may quickly guess what’s really going on before it’s actually officially sprung on everyone — but the fun is in getting to that point and with a set-up and atmosphere like this, you won’t mind getting played.


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