Dir: James Mangold
Star: John Cusack, Roy Liotta, Jake Busey, Amanda Peet
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 2003
Format: DVD R2

What if every choice we made had already been made for us? What if there really were no coincidences in life and our destinies were already predetermined?

Ten strangers with secrets are brought together in a savage rainstorm: A limo driver (John Cusack - Being John Malkovich), an '80s TV star (Rebecca DeMornay - The Hand That Rocks The Cradle), a cop ( Roy Liotta - Goodfellas) who is transporting a killer (Jake Busey - Enemy Of The State), a call girl (Amanda Peet - Igby Goes Down), a pair of newlyweds (Clea DuVall and William Lee Scott) and a family in crisis (John C. McGinley, Leila Kenzle, Bret Loehr), all take shelter at a desolate motel run by a nervous night manager (John Hawkes). Relief in finding shelter is quickly replaced with fear as one by one the ten travellers begin to die. They soon realise that, if they are to survive, they'll have to uncover the secret that has brought them all together.

Welcome to the Bates Motel, without the house and Anthony Perkins' Norman Bates, but with all the dark, rain drenched, atmospheric fervour which surrounded Hitchcock's' classic Psycho.

Identity is not a new idea, more like an up-to-date interpretation along similar lines of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Niggers/Then There Were None. Both have strangers with predetermined fates that bring them all together to bear witness to murder, upon murder, upon murder, or so it would seem.

From the outset the film promises to be an acceptable murder mystery with a good cast of seasoned actors and a very intense, worried little boy (I do hope he smiles in real life!) Add together a dark night, lashings of rain, a deserted motel with a shady night-watchman and toss in a bunch of miscreants and the scene is set for mayhem to run riot. Great stuff! Sit back and be prepared to be entertained.

A feeling of dread and foreboding permeates throughout the film and I couldn't help feeling that the cast and crew must have been permanently soaked and thoroughly miserable but even in those conditions an added edge was achieved by smart direction, production.

It's a great film, which has enough gore to satisfy the horror enthusiast and a well-written plot to keep the thrill seekers interested and guessing throughout. For those of you who are avid horror/thriller/mystery watchers or readers, you may well be able to piece it together towards the end but this doesn't spoil the fun.

There are of course no films that are perfect and this is no exemption. A few continuity errors occur but you have to be playing close attention to detail to notice them. Don't let them stop your enjoyment of this film. It deserves a viewing and I don't think you will be disappointed with what you see, I wasn't and I am well accustomed to this particular genre. You may like to invite a friend to watch it with you if you are of a nervous disposition, otherwise have a cushion handy!


The secret lies within.


Ed: When I was going up the stairs, I met a man who wasn't there. He wasn't there again today, I wish, I wish he'd go away.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic Good, it handles all of the dark and rain very well.
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Sounds spooky.
Features Alternative ending
Deleted scenes
Making Of featurette
Verdict Good transfer, good extras, great film.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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