I didn't know what to expect from this movie, and honestly I am glad that I didn't. I won't give away too much about the plot because it may ruin any surprise that's left (if the previews didn't already give it away). You will think that this movie is just another hashing of the horror genre's predictable stereotypes, but as you delve deeper into the movie and the plot you'll realize that there is something more profound at the movie's core. By means of misdirection and trickery, you'll be led down a path to believe what you and director James Mangold want you to believe. Because the film sets you up with the same old-same old, you won't be tempted to think outside of the box and that leads you into the big unexpected surprise that comes out of nowhere. Once you figure out what's really going on, you'll have to do some more sleuthing to find out how the movie is going to end. ---The problem is, that once you reach your conclusion, the last few minutes of the movie might just prove you wrong.
The movie starts out exceedingly common and simple. On a dark and rainy evening, several people find themselves stranded at a run-down motel in the middle of BFE (bum fuck Egypt) because all the roads have been washed out or are impassable. The cast of characters include: Ed (John Cusack), an ex-cop turned chauffer who shuttles around a fallen starlet (a barely recognizable Rebecca De Mornay-who snidely quips "I used to be a movie star, you know") ; Paris (Amanda Peet) a reformed Magdalene who is leaving Las Vegas for a more Sunkist life in Florida; Officer Rhodes (Ray Liotta) and his convict charge Maine (Jake Busey) who is being transferred to a new prison; George (John C. McGinley), whose wife Alice (Leila Kinzle) was gravely injured when she was struck by Ed's limo. Quietly taking all of this in is their son, little Timmy. He doesn't know what to make of everything and is deathly afraid. There is also a Norman Bates wannabe Larry (John Hawkes) who runs the ramshackle motor lodge; and two not-so-happy newlyweds Lou (William Lee Scott) and Ginny (Clea DuVall) on their honeymoon.
True to Hollywood form, as the rainy night wears on, the characters, one-by-one, turn up dead. Naturally, Ed regresses to his detective days and works to figure out who (or what) is behind the murders. As he starts to come closer to what's happening, the film is interrupted by what appears to be a completely unrelated side story, but it turns out to be more key than you would imagine (pun intended).
Identity does something highly remarkable and unorthodox with your typical horror/suspense/mystery movie, and that's what gives it an edge. It gets psychological in more ways than one, and that's the beauty and uniqueness of it, but the viewer isn't the only one who's being fooled.
The cast in Identity is large, with many familiar faces, but the three who stand out are obviously Cusack, Liotta, and Peet. I don't think I need to mention why the first two were cast in this movie, but I would like to comment on Peet. Last time I saw her was in Changing Lanes and I thought she did well with her small part. However, Identity gives her more of a chance to stand out, and that she did. Her part as the recovering prostitute who wants to start over was convincing and showed that she does have an aptitude for acting and is not the latest pretty face to step into Hollywood.
I really liked Identity and it was just the right length at 90 minutes, anything longer would have made things too drawn out. I recommend it and it's good to see a fresh new spin on and tired old style.
Notes: Good work by Amanda Peet.
Czarina's Caustic Comment or Captious Compliment: There is a dark side to this Identity.
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