Dark and haunting, this Canadian thriller has an offhanded style that balances a grisly mystery with real-life humour, plus characters who are easy to identify with. It may spark memories of Fargo with its snowy small-town female cop storyline, but it's a much moodier movie, delving into religious themes that add an emotionally unsettling twist. So even if the plot itself feels somewhat straightforward and inevitable, the atmosphere is riveting.
Susan Sarandon stars as past-her-prime police officer Hazel, using sardonic humour to get through each uneventful day. Then a family friend is violently murdered, and she decides to investigate the case herself. To tackle the first murder in Fort Dundas in four years, Hazel teams up with long-time colleague Ray (Gil Bellows) and newcomer Ben (Topher Grace), who has just transferred in from big-city Toronto, complete with his own issues. They soon link the killing to others around the country and, by consulting with a priest (Donald Sutherland) who's an expert in Latin, it becomes clear that these murders are part of a much greater plan that has a connection with early Christian mysticism. The question is whether they can predict who the next victim will be so they can catch the killer.
Director Jason Stone and writer Scott Abrahamovich draw the audience in with carefully developed characters and hilariously spiky interaction, then grab onto us with the intriguing mystery. There's a dark sense of foreboding from the start, tempered with dry wit to keep us off balance. They also let us see the soft-spoken killer (Christopher Heyerdahl) early on, which further complicates the story and elevates the suspense into something darkly personal. At the centre, Sarandon gives a wonderfully sassy performance, bouncing superbly off of Bellows and Grace, who has some subtle depth of his own. The presence of veterans like Burstyn (as Hazel's ex-judge mother) and Sutherland adds extra oomph.
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