Film: Too Many Ifs to Truly Succeed; Identity (15,90Mins) Thriller. John Cusack,Ray Liotta,Alfred Molina,Amanda Peet,Rebecca De Mornay,Clea DuVall,William Lee Scott,John C McGinley,Jake Busey,John Hawkes. R Ating **** Igby Goes Down (15,98Mins) Comedy. Kieran Culkin,Claire Danes,Jeff Goldblum, Susan Sarandon,Jared Harris,Amanda Peet, Ryan Phillippe,Bill Pullman,Rory Culkin. Rating ****
Byline: Neil Lawrence
IT TAKES verve and cunning, not to mention luck, for a film to genuinely surprise its audience with a final-reel twist.
The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense managed the feat with elan, and James Mangold's psychological thriller almost succeeds too. If only screenwriter MichaelCooney hadn't allowed the pace to slacken in the final 20 minutes, allowing us too much time to ponder the clues. If only the epilogue wasn't so cliched and hammy. If only the film had a different title.
A sudden torrential rainstorm and violent winds force ten complete strangers to seek refuge in a motel.
The manager (Hawkes) is only too glad to put everyone up, including a fading movie star (De Mornay), her limousine driver (Cusack), a cop (Liotta),a prostitute (Peet) and a pair of newlyweds (Scott, DuVall) The group is glad to have found shelter but the sense of relief is quickly shattered when one of their party is murdered - and then another.
Paranoia sweeps through the survivors as it becomes clear that one of them is a serialmurderer.
As the guests turn on each other, they discover they were drawn to the motel by dark forces beyond their imagination. The few who survive the ordeal will be granted a mind-bending and terrifying destiny.
Director Mangold generates delicious tension from the claustrophobic motel setting, which is made all the more foreboding by the constant rat- a tat tat of rain on the apartment roofs.
The ensemble cast is excellent - excepting De Mornay's exceedingly camp turn - notably Cusackand Liotta.
The death scenes a regruesome without being gratuitous and there are plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing about thekiller's identity.
It's a pity the screenwriters telegraph the final twist so far in advance, but even though you know what's coming, the film's ambition is still impressive.
AS THE summer blockbusters stampede your local multiplex, spare a thought for the smaller independent films which value sub-stance above style at allcosts. …