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Alphabet Killer, The (DVD Review)

24 Dec, 2008 By: Kyra Kudick


Street 1/6/09
Anchor Bay
Box Office $0.03 million
$26.97 DVD
Rated ‘R’ for language and some violence.
Stars Eliza Dushku, Cary Elwes, Timothy Hutton, Michael Ironside, Tom Malloy.

Although it isn’t on par with The Silence of the Lambs (seriously, what is?), The Alphabet Killer is a solid film reminiscent of that style of psychological thriller with good writing and sound performances from a first-rate cast.

The film is loosely based on the true story of a 1970s serial killer in Rochester, N.Y., who raped and killed victims with double-initial names and then dumped their bodies in towns beginning with the same letter.

You need only to peek at my byline to see why this film was particularly disturbing to me. My name has presented a few challenges in life, but mispronunciations pale in comparison to being the marked target of a mad man (yikes).

The focus of the story is a female detective (Dushku) who becomes increasingly obsessed with solving the case and has a psychotic break, resulting in a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Fans of Dushku will be delighted to see her in a more mature role, as she excellently portrays a woman battling inner turmoil. There are certainly parallels (and jokes) to be found between this and her previous roles (she is essentially battling evil, and she thinks the dead girls are calling to her for help — shades of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Tru Calling," respectively), but it doesn’t detract from the quality of her performance or interfere with the overall enjoyment of the film.

The casting is a special treat for those viewers who like to solve the who-done-it before the onscreen detectives can. The sheer number of actors cast who have previously played villains makes guessing the outcome a fun challenge.

The DVD extras are pretty basic with two audio commentaries, a rather lame making-of montage and an alternate scene. The commentary with writer/producer/actor Tom Malloy ends up being more entertaining than that of producer Isen Robbins and director Rob Schmidt, who are more analytical than anecdotal.

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