‘Unspeakable’ (2002)

unspeakable2003.jpg It could have used a better editor.

This is one of those films that I caught about 15 min. late on late-night cable. That I missed those 15 min. made all the difference in the world, making a clunky thriller into something much more compelling. The dorktastic  titles reading ‘Tonight’, ’3 Days Earlier’, etc., etc. – played no part in my first impression, and the film played as a straight jailhouse drama that way, with LESS ludicrous pseudo-science and fewer superhuman feats perpetrated by the arch-villain.

I was so intrigued by this insomnia-tinged drama that I programmed my Tivo to catch the West Coast feed of the movie, and that was the good-bad mistake. This film would have been far more effective if they had eliminated the backstories at the beginning of the film and the wannabe ‘ Another Heaven ‘ (2000) aspects of the Jesse Mowatt character. The director and the editor overplayed their hands there.

The pluses for this film are that the leads – Dina Meyer, Lance Henrickson, Jeff Fahey and even the writer/actor Pavan Grover turn in acceptable performances. I was especially impressed by Meyer here, in her capacity to convey sympathy, compassion, authority, fear, etc. Dennis Hopper’s contribution however, is execrable: his lines are terrible, and he chooses to read them like a ‘tough love’ southern caricature.

The ‘metaphysically-enhanced serial killer’ is an overcrowded field. It has been done to death. If anyone is out there writing such stuff, it is best that they limit their palette – too many psychic powers and sci-fi gadgets can put a serious hurt on one’s story. Otherwise, this one is well-enough executed, and ironically a full cut above the junk that’s habitually ground-out by the SciFi Channel.

If it’s a late night or early morning, definitely worth biding one’s insomnia by…

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

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