Deceiver Movie Review
Deceiver may not be the latest in this trend of trying to trick us, but it is, like most of them, incredibly easy to predict. You see, when you've watched enough movies, you become immune to their tricks. You see through them, know the killer ten seconds in from their first facial expressions.
Unlike most of these movies, Deceiver scrapes by on the virtue of being unpredictable enough that I had some doubt in my mind whether or not I was correct. Other than that and the fact that it uses a non-linear narrative style, there is not much to distinguish Deceiver from your Joe-schmoe mystery film... the ones where the movie buff can see where its going a mile away.
The plot of Deceiver is relatively simple. Wayland (Tim Roth) is the only suspect in the murder of Elizabeth Loftus (Renee Zellweger, in her first outing since Jerry Maguire). Wayland is one of those creepy types who happens to be a violent and insane epileptic with homicidal fantasies and an alcoholic to boot. He's a Princeton grad with a 152 IQ and a BA in Psychology. Against him are Braxton (Chris Penn) and Kennesaw (Michael Rooker), IQs of 102 and 132 respectively. Braxton is a former security guard at Wal Mart, Kennesaw a 20- year vet of the force with a BA in Psych from UNC. All of this info you get in the first few minutes.
The murder is grisly; the girl has been sawed in half with different parts of her body put in different parts of the city. The motive appears non-existent. The only evidence they have is finding Wayland's phone number in her pocket.
The next hour and a half is a bunch of creepy conversation and mind games related to the murder.
Sure, the dialogue is nicely scripted and writer-directors Jonas and Josh Pate should get credit for being able to take the interrogation scene and stretch it to make half the movie work, but the basic fact is that the movie ends up exactly where you expect it to be. In the end, there are no real surprises.
The writers seem to spend their time walking the fine line between a very good movie and a very bad one, between a film so completely original and so completely typical that, when all is said and done, the film just kind of gets on your nerves. Like most horror movies, it can be enjoyed in a state of mind where the majority of your brainpower is not actively working, but there is not much to it beyond that.
The acting and directing is fine. It is not great and it is not terrible. It lies, like the movie does, on the fine line between genius and madness. Of note is cinematographer Bill Butler, who manages to handle a semi-noir lighting fairly well. But, as far as the movie itself goes, rent 12 Monkeys instead. That one will get those cranial juices flowing.