So I had recently just watched the thriller ‘Untraceable’ which I criticized a bit for being too run-of-the mill and paint by the numbers. Now after watching ‘Anamorph’, which dares to be different, I see now why so many movie play it safe and try to do the same thing over and over again just with different people in it. Though we admire ‘Anamorph’ and its attempt to circumvent convention a bit, what it largely succeeds at is being very dull and very uninteresting.
Willem Dafoe assumes the role of Police Detective Stan Aubrey who is one obsessive compulsive son of a gun who is still reeling from a horrific serial killer case from five years ago where a man the dubbed Uncle Eddie was killing people and setting their bodies up as works of art. Fortunately Detective Aubrey took down the killer in a police raid, and though there was some doubt if this was the guy or not, the killings did stop so they know they got there man. Ever since that case however the fragile detective has taken himself off the street and has become a profile instructor for the department, that is until another killing pops up eerily similar to the Uncle Eddie cases from years ago.
This time around the main man on the case is young hot shot detective Carl Uffner (Scott Speedman) who suspects from the get go that the person they are searching for is the killer from years ago, though Aubrey isn’t trying to hear any of that. Even Aubrey’s art dealer (Peter Stromare) who secures precious pieces for the detective takes a look at the current serial killer’s work and the past serial killers work and concludes that they must be the same guy, which only serves to piss off the uptight cop even more.
Whoever in the hell is doing the killing is getting carried away with himself as the body count starts to mount and he involves Aubrey deeper into his crimes, almost as if he is
creating works of art for the detective personally. A bit too personal it would seem as people in the detectives life are ending up as works of art to this sick and sadistic killer, which will lead eventually to the a shoot out, proving that we can only be unique and different up to a point.
You would think that a film with as much quiet time and as much introspection that this one has that it would have to make a little more sense. I am no art major nor am I that well versed in the terminology of art so when characters start breaking down what our super villain was trying to do it went completely over my head. Now it could be because I’m stupid, which is a great possibility, or because I nodded off during one the many quiet moments of introspection that this film possessed, or perhaps the filmmakers thought if we don’t understand then we probably shouldn’t be watching the movie in the first place. I got the whole anamorph thing and what it’s supposed to be, but how it figured into how our killer planned his next death sequence was beyond me. Considering all the heavy equipment and elaborate crap that this guy used to create his masterpieces you would’ve thought one these crack detectives could have tracked down this loser a little easier than they did.
Now despite the attempts to be different there were a couple of things that were painfully standard. When we meet Clea Duvall’s character of Sandy Strickland, an ex-prostitute and friend to our detective connected together by a victim of the previous serial killer, we know that she serves absolutely no purpose in this film other than to get snatched up at some point. We’re hoping this won’t be the case, but alas our hopes are not met. We also love how this ‘crack’ detective figured out who the killer was just before Sandy got snatched up, just like they always do. And how in the hell did Scott Speedman’s character, who was pretty much presented to us an idiot through the whole movie, figure out the case by looking at a reflections in his coffee mug?
Despite the dullness of it all, Director Henry Miller has crafted a very good looking film that is nicely staged and has a nice atmosphere to it. Willem Dafoe brings some interesting textures to the character he plays, though his ‘motivation’ was pretty much lost on me and Scott Speedman does what he can with the completely thankless role of the stupid stud young cop forced to work with an asshole.
‘Anamorph’ is the kind of movie that I’m sure that somebody out there can see the genius of it all, but allow me to apologize and say that I just happen not to be one of those people.