Saturday, July 25, 2015

Film Pairings — Two Approaches To Serial Killer Tales

Not all serial killer movies are born equal. The Calling grossed roughly $3 million, a fraction of the $73 million spent just to make The Bone Collector, which ended up with $151 million in box office receipts. Yet structurally, the two have a lot in common. In each, a former star cop forms a team to piece together mysterious but similar clues to what otherwise appears to be random killings.  They must do so quickly to stop the quickening mayhem. Also in both cases, protagonists must solve the puzzles despite the obstruction of incompetent higher-ups. Sounds like a formula to me.
Gil Bellows and Susan Sarandon

The Calling — I usually love high-quality low-budget crime films.   They are often projects driven more by love than money. Because they are a result of personal passion, they may not have that blockbuster appeal.  Yet, they often provide a deeper glimpse into the characters. They are everyday folks like us, and we accept that such horror could happen in our own ordinary lives. Susan Sarandon, Donald Sutherland, Christopher Heyerdahl and Ellen Burtstyn bring a level of gravitas to a story that is more personal than suspenseful. Jason Stone directed The Calling, which was based on the novel by Inger Ash Wolfe and released to video in 2014.

Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie
The Bone Collector — I’d like to root for the underdog; but The Bone Collector is the better movie.  In this case, money made a difference.  Its plentitude here is apparent in every scene, in the sets, the lighting, the extras, even the camera angles. The plot, the dialogue and the acting aren’t necessarily superior; but the environment in which that all takes place is more seductive and where needed far more terrifying. This 1999 movie also has box office star power — Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. Given the somewhat sappy Hollywood ending, there was no need to kill off the film’s most likable and most intriguing character. The Bone Collector was based on the book by Jeffery Deaver and directed by Phillip Noyce.

In both films, a chill is in he air. You might want a little warmth.  So I’m suggesting a glass of decent whiskey as an accompaniment. Or, maybe a cup of hot chocolate will do as well.

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