Someone's in the house. He's watching. He's creeping round, only you can't see him. He's watching you from the walls. He's right behind you now. Looking over your shoulder. He wants the remote control. He's a bad boy. He wants to watch bad movies. Bad bad Ronald...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

PEEPHOLE REVIEW: Dear Mr. Gacy (2010)

Dear Mr. Gacy: I think I'm smarter than you... can I come visit you, alone, in prison? You won't try anything nasty on me, will you?
The story of Jason Moss has always been an interesting one to me. Like me, he's held a curious interest in the mind of the serial killer, and wondered what it was that made them different from us.  Only, Moss took a harrowing (and highly risky) step towards that understanding.

In prison, on death row, John Wayne Gacy (played by William Forsythe) starts to receive some letters from a college student, Jason Moss (Jesse Moss) .  What separated Moss' letters from the 100s of others was Moss' willingness to open up about details of his unpleasant home life:  his confusion of his own sexuality, his fear of a violent father, and his own violent thoughts.  Moss, of course, designed these fictitious details specifically because he studied the backgrounds of Gacy's victims, and he knew Gacy would be attracted to his story.  The stack of pretty boy photos of himself were also intended to entice the infamous killer.
You so pretty
The letters worked, and Gacy and Moss become fast pen pals, and confidants.  But, Moss soon finds himself being marked as the victim he didn't plan on being.  It was his intent to try and persuade a confession out of the serial killer who had still feigned innocence.  However, Moss is overwhelmed by Gacy's constant phone calls and intimidating powers, so much so that he begins to obey Gacy's every demand.  Demands that put himself and even his family at risk.  To try and take power back, Moss agrees to meet with Gacy, at the prison, in a final attempt to draw out a confession.  Thinking he has the perfect plan to turn the tables on the killer, Moss quickly finds he could become Gacy's final victim, when he finds himself alone, with no supervision, in Gacy's prison cell.

The story of Jason Moss is an interesting one, indeed.  And Gacy, such a volatile personality, who can still flex his killer fists from the confines of a prison cell.  Unfortunately, the power of this story is not fully realized by director Svetozar Ristovski and writer Kellie Madison.  Forsythe is better than he's been in a long time, as the clown faced serial killer, but the performances by the remaining cast, especially the pivotal lead Jesse Moss, are all fairly lackluster.  Madison's script stays the course, laying out Moss' story piece by piece -- but we never really see Moss push further, digging deeper into his own dark side.  I've never read the book by Moss, that the script is based on, but I would imagine, by this adaptation, that maybe Moss didn't dare dig too deep either -- or rather, he didn't dare confess how deep his thoughts really went.  The result is a story that merely skims the surface of the deep dark mind of a boy who likes serial killers.

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