6 user 11 critic

Cold Light of Day (1989)

Fictionalized account based on the actions of serial killer Dennis Nilsen.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bob Flag ... Dennis Nilsen
Martin Byrne-Quinn Martin Byrne-Quinn ... Joe
Geoffrey Greenhill Geoffrey Greenhill ... Inspector Simmons
Mark Hawkins Mark Hawkins ... The Poor Boy
Andrew Edmans Andrew Edmans ... Stephen
Jackie Cox Jackie Cox ... Julie Stay
Bill Merrow Bill Merrow ... Albert Green
Claire King Claire King ... Prostitute
Eugene Cheese Eugene Cheese ... Grandfather (as Paul Jay)
Deborah Manship Deborah Manship ... Mother
Gary Ewell Gary Ewell ... Young Jorden
Lol Coxhill Lol Coxhill ... Priest
Joe Owen Joe Owen ... Detective Taylor
Carlos Downie Carlos Downie ... Pick up in cafe
Malcolm Rogers Malcolm Rogers ... Forensic Officer


Fictionalized account based on the actions of serial killer Dennis Nilsen.

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Did You Know?


In the end credits, the word 'prosthetics' is misspelled 'prosphetics'. See more »

Crazy Credits

Before the end credits, a caption appears that reads 'For those too sensitive for this world - Fhiona'. See more »

User Reviews

Turn down the sound, lipread the dialogue.
26 April 2017 | by tim-935See all my reviews

If you are reading this you will have come here with a purpose. The sadistic trail of murderous narcissism left behind by Dennis Nilsen from 1978 until being caught in 1983 will be familiar.

This low budget retelling, in the style of a reject Channel 4 documentary, disappoints on several levels. The production could have been much more effective as a Film Noir. Narrative should drive the action which takes place in the shadows. Much more should have been made of conceptual imagery. The long, wandering take of Nilsen's room that concludes the film hints at what is possible.

One of the first ideas drummed into fledgling film editors is that sound is king. People will forgive the occasional wobble or slip in focus, even a dreadful edit, but will only endure a few moments of poor sound. From the opening whirl and deafening whoosh of whistling wind underpinned with rhythmic thumps, through the oh so too long tolling funeral bell complete with Darth Vader breathing, to the invasive wild-takes in street scenes, the soundtrack is jarring.

The action of the film, concerning the enticement of the victims, their strangulation and drowning, followed by their dismemberment and disposal, is interspersed with sections of the police interview after arrest. My reading of the notes taken at the time, this was before PACE and the routine tape recording of interviews, along with the subsequent evidence at trial, portrays a civil interrogation of a compliant, emotionless Nilsen, calmly admitting to his crimes. In Fhiona Louise's version here we have the lead detective, Chief Inspector Simmons (Geoffrey Greenhill), in real life DCI Peter Jay, railing and shouting with his suspect, trying to obtain admissions of perversion and worse.

The Nilsen character is played by Bob Flag, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the murderer. For the film he is renamed Jorden March, possibly a nod to Whitemoor prison where, for a while, he was held.

If you know nothing about this case then pass this one by. If you are knowledgeable then you will find nothing new here except interpretation. If you are looking for a low budget, amateurish, short to deconstruct then you have hit the jackpot.

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Release Date:

14 February 2008 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Cold Light of Day See more »

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(video) | (theatrical)


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