Alex, a hit man, tries to get out of the family business, but his father won't let him do so. While seeking the help of a therapist, he meets a sexually charged 23-year-old woman with whom he falls in love.
A mad doctor runs a sanitarium in the desert, where his hunchbacked servant whips women who are chained in the basement and cuts the legs off bodies so they'll fit in the caskets. ... See full summary »
Alex, a sad-eyed mournful man, goes into psychotherapy: he discloses he's a hit man. He also tells the doctor, after a few sessions, that he's attracted to a young woman he's met in the waiting room. She's Sarah, 23, quick, edgy, and perhaps attracted to him as well. But he's married, the dutiful father of a young precocious boy, so Sarah brushes him off. In flashbacks we see him get his start as a killer, at his father's prompting: it's the family business. Dad gives Alex his next assignment: to kill the therapist. Alex keeps returning to Sarah, calling her, stopping by her apartment, as he decides what to do about the hit, his father, his marriage, and his malaise. Written by
Panic is a sneaky little gem of a film - you think you have it figured out by the first half hour only to realize, with great pleasure, that Henry Bromell is a much better writer/director than that.
The film builds slowly, with one quietly devastating scene after another, all enacted perfectly by William H. Macy, Donald Sutherland, Neve Campbell, Tracey Ullman, John Ritter, and the most remarkable child actor I've seen in a long time, David Dorfman, as Macy's son, who delivers his lines as if they're completely unscripted thoughts being created in his mind. Rich and rewarding, this film will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.
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