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The reality is that we’ve seen this all before: Killer’s
monologues that take a shot at being philosophical. The far-too-pretty criminal
forensic profiler new to the case. The gruff, seasoned cop who hates the idea
of having to work alongside anyone, though it may help save the victims. The
convicted murderer who helps the detective on the case by offering clues in
self-indulgent rants. The clichés are all here in A DARKER REALITY, now on DVD
from Phase 4 Films.
The plot revolves around Agent Alex Belasco’s (James C.
Burns) struggle with the elusive “Ghost” (Daniel Baldwin), a by-the-numbers
menace who captures girls, tortures them then kills the captives once they’ve
lost their entertainment value. With the body count showing no signs of slowing
down, Agent Belasco has to swallow his pride and partner up with Dr. Jesse
Mecalfe (Sunny Doench), who has become a pseudocelebrity due to her success
overseeing forensic evidence. Having come up short, our heroes take any help
they can get. Dr. Mecalfe pursues possible clues from the only survivor of the
Ghost’s antics, while Belasco continues to catch up with an ol’ child-molesting
buddy of his who seems to have an on-line relationship with the Ghost, despite
being locked up.
The movie doesn’t reinvent the serial-killer/cop genre, nor
does it try to. Instead, it comes off as a love letter to such films as THE
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and COPYCAT. The biggest difference is that instead of
focusing the detective’s struggle, director Chris Kazmier and writer
Sxv’leithan Essex (!) decided to take us on a tour of the murderer’s dark
world. A little more than half of the movie’s running time is spent watching
our villain torment his captives, be it mentally or physically, or having the
girls recollect the horrible moments of their time spent with the Ghost and his
mentally handicapped brother Newt.
Looking past the budget restrictions, the movie also suffers
from lazy writing and directing. It’s always hard to care for unlikable
characters, and 90 minutes of creepy ambient sound is not the key to creating a
terrifying atmosphere. Despite the creative flaws and stereotypes, the movie
does have some things going for it: Certain moments are harsh and genuinely get
under your skin, plus there are surprisingly fun performances by Heather Howe,
Jonathan Oldham (as the Lecter-esque villain Quail), and Baldwin, turning it up
and leaving it all out there as the Ghost. Much like the movie with original
thrills, the disc’s special features are almost nonexistent, consisting solely
of the trailer and some dull deleted scenes (deservingly so). While A DARKER
REALITY isn’t a terrible movie by any means, one can’t help thinking 20 minutes
in that they’d have a better time watching one of the films that inspired it.
DVD/ Blu-ray Reviews
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