This chilling tale recounts the late 70's in New York City, when a serial killer on the loose dubbed "Son of Sam" creates havoc. When arrested, "Son of Sam" tells police he was influenced ... See full summary »
This is a pretty monotonous and factually inaccurate portrait of Richard Ramirez, a.k.a. The Night Stalker, the serial killer and self-proclaimed Satanist who terrorised Los Angeles and San Francisco in the mid-1980s. It offers little characterisation, next to no story, no suspense and lots of badly executed violence. Most of the short running time is filled with Richard's repetitious bad-beat-poetry voice-over of a soundtrack ('She was my dark Princess. Dark like hell. Darker than night, my Satanic queen, she was so dark..' etc) plus endless close-ups of him sucking suggestively on a lollipop.
What the film does have going for it is difference - the style and delivery are significantly unlike those of the majority of straight to DVD horror films. This doesn't save it from being a real chore to sit through, but seems worth commenting on in these times when so many films are bad in exactly the same way as each other.
The grainy video cinematography and no-budget location shooting give the film a gritty sense of place. Richard's voice-over seems designed to fill the void where a recording of the outdoor location sound would normally be. It looks like they only bothered to record sound when it wouldn't be blotted out by traffic and the din of the world - i.e. mostly when they were indoors.
This is actually a pretty good film for the actors when they are able to snatch any screen time away from Richard and his lollipops. It looks like the performers were allowed to improvise nearly all of their conversations. When this works, it gives the scenes a ring of non-movie reality. Of course when it doesn't, the actors end up riffing the same ideas repeatedly.
The Night Stalker was called the Night Stalker because he attacked people at night. Well, he goes in for a lot of daytime attacks in this film. Very few of the crimes match up to the real case history, the scene in which he is apprehended is abysmally directed, you never see how he gets into any of the victims' houses, and there is no real illumination of the man, either real or imaginary. I would have settled for either.
I didn't stop watching this film, but I wouldn't recommend that you start. It's also not a good sign that the film's opening and closing credits take up one eighth of the running time ... but then again, the actors in this film did get a very good deal. They got to improvise, and everyone's name was displayed twice.
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