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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Not at all bad; I enjoyed it!

7/10
Author: raylynhan from United Kingdom
30 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is not as bad as some would have you believe, at least not in my opinion. As a self confessed fan of both Chris Penn and Michael Madsen I may come at this with a biased view; but for a low budget thriller it is not at all bad. A serial killer has resurfaced after a 4 year absence and is once again tormenting a burnt out, loose cannon FBI agent. Will he be able to track down the killer before they go underground again? Matters are complicated when it appears that the killer is changing their usual pattern and is now somehow tied up with a female psychologist and her latest group of patients. To say much more would give away too much of the plot, which although not the most original ever, is the basis for an enjoyable and suitably atmospheric thriller. The acting is good and both Chris Penn and Michael Madsen are their usual charismatic selves. Of the peripheral characters perhaps the most interesting to watch is Chad McQueen both for the revelation of his character's storyline, which is not fully disclosed until the almost the end, and because he is the son of Steve McQueen (talk about a hard act to follow!).

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

loved it

9/10
Author: Braxton from Canada
15 January 1999

Yes I liked this movie. Why? because I didn't bother comparing it to others in the serial killer genre. It was low budget, yes, but it had strong performances from the always entertaining Chris Penn and Michael Madsen. Other performances (such as Jennifer Dale and the guy who played William) make this movie noteworthy as well. The first time I saw it, I wasn't too terribly impressed, but I watched it again, and I liked it far more the second time, and the third. There were funny moments (Enola talking to the lawyer) and heart-wrenching times (i.e. Enola calling his kids) and very nice tensions were built up in the therapist's office. I'd give this movie a 7/10, nice job all!

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

This is a trail I would avoid if I were you

6/10
Author: Mike (sutcal) from Melbourne Australia
31 July 2001

This is a low budget serial killer movie that is low budget and not the best quality acting either. In most serial killer movies, there is a twist or the killer is one of the characters you get to know. I won't give the ending away other than the "who is the killer" at the end of the movie is badly done (overworked) and leaves you pretty disappointed. I am also continually amazed at the stamina shown from gun shot victims (observe Mr Penn towards the end).

I am not sure what role Michael Marsden is playing in this movie. His character has no real bearing on the plot and fades in and out (and disappears before the end).

Its not big budget, has no big names and really is a TV/Video movie at best. Expect nothing flash and you won't be disappointed. There is a slight story there for the viewing, but its nothing that hasn;t been seen and done over and over and over (and much better as well)

Not worth the effort

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Should have bought the toilet paper

Author: lawfella from New Jersey, USA
2 August 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

They were selling this one at the supermarket for $3.99, the same price as the six-roll package of toilet paper. I made the wrong choice, as usual. A gruesome film noir about a serial killer who hacks off pieces of his victims' bodies before killing them. Hard to tell what was going on because both the lighting and sound recording were so poor, but there was some connection to a psychotherapist and her group therapy patients. Needless to say, lots of people had to die before the killer is identified and caught. (Partial spoilers ahead.) Don't bother trying to guess whodunit, because it is impossible to tell until the last minute, when the missing information is abruptly supplied out of nowhere. There is an (unintentionally) hilarious sequence in which hero Chris Penn, who, let's face it, is built more like John Belushi than like Arnold Schwarzenegger, is shot in the chest, injected with a sedative and tied down in the ambulance taking him to the hospital -- but powered only by his obsessive hatred of the killer, he manages to break free from his restraints, overpowers the ambulance attendants, drives off at high speed, gets into a collision with two or three other vehicles, abandons the ambulance and runs to the location where he believes the killer is located, all based only on one of those infallible "hunches" law enforcement officers always have in these films. Yes, he manages to thwart the killer's attempt to kill the final victim, who then remarks that "we need to get you to a hospital." The toilet paper I could have bought would not only have been more useful than this film, but it likely would have had superior narrative and cinematic qualities. Live and learn.

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5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Bad Bad Bad

Author: fuzaborsky (fuzaborsky@aol.com) from Canada
24 February 2003

Horrible acting, horrible writing, ridiculous story. I like Penn and Madsen and thought this may be good. Boy was I wrong. Like the earlier reviewer asked. Why was Madsen in this movie?? He did drift in and out and added absolutely nothing to the story and he did in fact disappear before the conclusion. Weird. I did get a laugh from how bad some of the writing was. Just listening to some of the lines being read was hilarious.

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3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Minor surgery would be more entertaining...

2/10
Author: Spacelamb from Australia
27 June 2002

Papertrail is cliched trash with absolutely no redeeming features - period. The one point of interest is the cast. Poor Chris Penn! Despite top-notch performances in Short Cuts and The Funeral he's still paying the bills with straight-to-video 'entertainment' like this derivative turkey. Ditto Michael Madsen - there's actually a scene where the two sit quietly facing each other, presumably lost in thought over why they're still paying their agents.

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2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

low rent serial killer flick, aggressively bad.

1/10
Author: dg-7 from canada
28 October 1998

TRAIL OF A SERIAL KILLER is an aggressively bad entry into the serial killer genre, or in this case made for video which means I won't bother comparing the good movies in the genre(Seven, Kiss the Girls) or the bad(Copycat, Switchback) This movie which lurches across the screen before dying of its own nauses would deserve a mantle all its own.

The movie opens with a young girl who leaves a movie theatre(the Paradise none other) and is murdered on the walk home. But wait there's more. The killer takes the girl's picture, tapes her hands and then puts one of those movie notes in her mouth for Detectives Michael Madsen and Chris Penn to find, complete with magazine clipped lettering. It's hilarious, this killer with his sense of all purpose. And of course Penn has a psychological battle with the killer who "he knows" is responsible for this one too. The killer calls him and his family so you see it really is important that he finds this guy fast.

Did I mention the intercut between the shrink (Jennifer Dale) who only sees her crazy patients at night? One of her patients tells her she gets excited by committing violent acts. Is she the killer? Dale holds a meeting at a dark church for her most dangerous patients where we hear dialogue about sex and violence that's so corny you wonder how the actors could even respect the material enough to speak it. The whole movie's at such a garbage level what with the hollow plot and abandoned settings which smacks of four in the morning filming locations shot in warehouses and crackshops. The identikit, do everything killer is so bad it really is funny and Madsen and Penn spend the whole movie being over the top and macho when they should be taking fingerprints and watching smarter, techically competent movies of the genre.

A few weeks ago I was watching a show about killers where the host suggested that murderers like Ted Bundy should kill themselves instead of wasting society's time. You got a murder suicide plot, kill yourself is the point I think. TRAIL OF A SERIAL KILLER wants us to accept a serial killer, a cop, who we're supposed to suspect is crazy himself, wrapped up in a silly, low-rent world to find out who the killer is. Who knows? Who cares?

DG

NO STARS(out of four)

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