Stan is a quiet, solitary detective in New York City. A few months ago, he solved a gruesome case of serial murders, although an undercover police officer lost her life. A new set of similar murders begins: the bodies are elaborately displayed and the killer uses equipment from art and early movie making in the tableau, or he leaves a clue as to where the investigators are to stand to get the full artistic effect. Stan is paired with a younger detective, Carl, whom he brushes off when Carl wants to get to know him. As pieces fall in place, it's a race to prevent the next killing, quite possibly someone close to Stan. Written by
A detective (Willem Dafoe) is on the hunt for a killer who transforms his victims into works of art. The cases grow more and more brutal, and some suspect the detective himself may somehow be involved (though, from the audience's point of view, this involvement is not apparent). Who is the killer, can he be caught?
I had low expectations for this film. Dafoe is an amazing actor, and has appeared in some great films (and some not-so-great but still popular ones). Typically, he wouldn't be in a film unless it was going to be huge. This being a straight-to-DVD title, I had to wonder... could it be good if they felt that Dafoe wasn't enough to carry it to the big screen? And the answer is simply: it's good, but not that good.
Dafoe is a great actor, and Peter Stormare ("Prison Break") is a good character actor (playing, as usual, a thuggish type here). But they are put in a plot that doesn't really have much depth. The writer was concerned about getting us from corpse to corpse, but that was about the extent of it. The directing, likewise, is good, but will do little to further a career -- a year from now, I'll be the only person to recall this film. The special effects were good and deserve credit. While not the most realistic corpses ever, there was plenty of time and thought involved... so cheers to you.
The one thing that stood out for me as quite good was the musical score. I have to say the composer hit the right nerves. I may already be mentally unbalanced -- this is true -- but the music hit me hard and gripped me, leaving me feeling dread and despair, which music will not often do. If the composer's goal was to create a mood of hopelessness and bleak darkness, I call this a success.
A philosophical question could be raised about whether the acts committed here were murder, art or both. Some might suggest that the death of one person may be a worthy sacrifice if the art produced is of significant value. If death can be used to justify some things, why not art? The film doesn't really explore this theme, and I'm inclined to believe that murder is hardly, if ever, justifiable. But a potential discussion exists here.
If you want to see a film about murder being turned into art, see the 1959 Roger Corman film "A Bucket of Blood". Or don't. But "Anamorph" will end up being an impulse rental that ultimately lets you down, I fear. 2008 is a slow year for horror and thrillers, so you may end up resorting to lesser fare to feed the addiction. Just be warned in advance that this is simply that and nothing more.
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