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A police officer suspects that a local husband and father who has recently undergone facial surgery because of injuries received in a car accident is in reality the same man who committed a quadruple murder several years before. Written by
Superior TV film opens with a murdered mother and her kids set up as if they were celebrating the youngest's birthday, which was when the murders took place. The father/husband, Ed Vincent, is missing and assumed the culprit. Detective Steiner (Richard Widmark) becomes obsessed with finding Vincent. Meanwhile, a guy picks up a hitcher only to wreck shortly thereafter. One man dies, the other (Keith Carradine) has no memory and needs facial reconstruction surgery. The survivor eventually recovers and marries his nurse (Kathleen Quinlan). Years later, a still obsessed Steiner receives an anonymous tip in the form of a newspaper clipping. He's thus led to believe that the survivor is in fact Ed Vincent, and sets out to be sure.
Great film, I really enjoyed it. Supported by a strong cast, the characters are all fleshed out and feel real. The film also plays with your expectations, turning them around time and time again. This in turn ratchets up the tension. There are some creepy moments as well, like sinister phone calls and the scenes with the zipper-faced maniac on the prowl. Speaking of that, I loved the mask, and wished it had been used more. It comes off too soon during the finale. Two other minor quibbles: I didn't find Quinlan's character sympathetic, and there's one bothersome contrivance involving a radio towards the end.
Highly recommended film with a strong central theme.
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