A rich and dangerous family are out to kill their mentally ill nephew, Robert. He escapes from the institution and the killings begin. The family members become more and more deranged as they fanatically
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Alberto De Martino
A few minor spoilers in this review, but not much.
At the time of this writing, this site has the wrong movie poster shown. This is not the film starring Brigitte Nielsen and Robert Davi, but rather a slasher movie starring Dick Sargent. Well, sort of. Director Paul Leder seemed to have attempted to craft a script that was both a slasher movie and a suspense thriller, but in the end it does not work as either one. Let's see if we can find out why.
Robert Knight is a man that has been locked up in an asylum for a number of years. We find out he has been put there by his evil uncle Charles (Sargent), who has apparently murderer both of his brothers in order to gain control of the family fortune. Also in on the whole scheme of keeping Robert locked up are one of the murdered men's wife and a bunch of people employed by the family. One day, the people at the asylum let their guard down, allowing Robert to escape with a little knife, and his goal is, yes, to kill off Uncle Charles. But in the middle of all this family squabble is Robert's cousin, Deborah (Lauren Woodland), and Robert wants to visit her before completing his ultimate quest because she means a great deal to him and he wants to be remembered by her fondly. He basically abducts her, picking her up after her ballet lesson and taking her out to eat and driving around the town while Charles worries about Robert doing damage to his plans. While Robert is entertaining Deborah and buying time before the family reunion, he makes time for snubbing out anyone that gets in his way. Eventually Robert stops fooling around and makes it to his uncle's mansion and the fun begins. Well, not really.
The first reason that this movie does not work is that it is, as mentioned earlier, trying to be two things at once. As a suspense thriller, it doesn't have any suspense. As a slasher movie, it isn't very, um, slashy. Robert kills people, but who he bumps off are not exactly sympathetic characters. And he kills everyone in the movie the same way: a knife to the gut. Realistically, being stabbed once in the stomach probably won't kill you instantly, but that isn't what Leder would have you believe. That is beside the point, as the problem is that a knife to the gut ten times in one movie is boring. Another problem lies with Robert himself. Bernie White does a good job playing Robert, no question, but the character of Robert is the crux of the matter. Robert had gone to seminary school before being committed, so he is a religious person, yet he doesn't seem to care about the Ten Commandments, instead he is bend on revenge and murder. They don't really address this much, except for one meaningless line of dialogue. Second, since we are so sympathetic to Robert's dilemma, it is hard to see him brutally murder people. We want Uncle Charles to come out on the short end of the stick, but Robert's actions make it hard for us to want him to succeed. Sure, many of us root for slashers in slasher movies, but this one is different. Robert is not an undead like Jason or Freddy and he isn't an escaped lunatic like Dr. Giggles so much as just an escapee. Another point of interest is Robert's relationship to Deborah. Even though he has abducted her, we know he is not going to harm her, so there is no suspense there. And his kind treatment of Deborah makes us even more heartfelt toward Robert. I won't go on with much else, since giving away more will spoil some surprises, but I will say that the movie might still have been enjoyable had it not been for some really awful and disappointing plot twists late in the movie. The fate of Uncle Charles, for instance, is just not done the way we want it to be. Nor is the climax. Nor the fact that certain other slimy characters getting away with their lives. The end result is a non-thrilling movie that even the target audience won't enjoy. But at least we got to see a rare appearance by Dick Sargent in a slasher movie. Zantara's score: 4 out of 10.
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