Identity

on April 25, 2003 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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“Identity” is a somewhat ironic title for this florid horror movie as it rarely manages to seize on an identity of it own. Instead, it's content to borrow liberally from the likes of Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Wes Craven, John Carpenter and many other horror filmmakers and wordsmiths. Admittedly, copying from others is not reason enough to dismiss any horror movie, but “Identity” fails to generate any personality or style of its own in the process.

Set in a rundown motel in the Nevada desert, on a ubiquitous ‘dark and stormy night,' “Identity” quickly brings together a disparate but connected group of 10 individuals. They include a limo driver (Jon Cusack), a cop transporting a prisoner (Ray Liotta), a prostitute looking to go straight (Amanda Peet) and a spoiled actress (Rebecca DeMornay), among various other sundry folk. With the road flooded, they're stuck in this creepy motel, at each other's throats, and sensing something evil on the horizon. Soon enough, the bodies start piling up and the survivors have to try to figure out who among their group is intent on killing everyone else.

Directed by James Mangold (“Copland”) with a heavy hand that attempts to jangle audience nerves, the overly atmospheric “Identity” certainly moves fast, barely introducing its protagonists before offing them. But there's no characterization here and, except for Cusack's intelligent, nuanced performance, the acting is uniformly rotten. Even the movie's sole stab at cleverness, the Rod Serling-influenced revelation of the identity of the murderer, undermines the logic and consistency of much of what has come before. Like 2001's “Joyride,” “Identity” is the unwelcome new face of Hollywood horror: loud, empty, unimaginative and as far from Alfred Hitchcock as a movie can be. Proceed at your own risk. Starring John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, John C McGinley and Alfred Molina. Directed by James Mangold. Written by Michael Cooney. Produced by Cathy Konrad. A Columbia release. Thriller. Rated R for strong violence and language. Running time: 90 min

Tags: John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, John C McGinley and Alfred Molina. Directed by James Mangold. Written by Michael Cooney. Produced by Cathy Konrad. A Columbia release. Thriller, murderer, evil, horizon, survivors, stormy
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