Identity (2003)
Directed by James Mangold

Starring Alfred Molina Amanda Peet John Cusack John Hawkes Ray Liotta

The "twist ending" thriller craze that began in the late 1990s with "Sixth Sense," and carried on into the '00s with "The Ring" and "The Others" struck once again with "Identity," an R-rated and very effective horror shocker from Michael Clooney, the writer of "Jack Frost."

"Jack Frost," as many of us remember, was one of those so-bad-it's-good direct-to-video horror films -- and is also celebrated as one of the first flicks to star "American Pie" hottie Shannon Elizabeth (who got naked, but not naked enough, in "Frost.") Amazingly, "Identity" has a bit in common with "Jack Frost." Both films are about killers sentenced to die who are being transported by a police vehicle -- only to have the shit then hit the fan. Both have a high body count.

But while "Frost" is a joke, "Identity" is a great horror film. The script was so good, in fact, that big names like John Cusack and Ray Liotta agreed to star. Pretty rare for a slasher film.

The resulting feature boasted a great ensemble cast, and a storyline that felt like something Rod Serling would have been proud of -- only with a lot more carnage than anything the Twilight Zone or Night Gallery ever dared come up with. The movie is a little like "Four Characters in Search of an Exit," a fantastic Zone episode some of you old-timers might remember.

During a rainstorm, a group of diverse characters find themselves trapped at a motel in the middle of Nevada. Said characters include Liotta as a cop who is transporting a vicious killer (Jake Busey); Rebecca De Mornay as an aging primadonna actress; John Cusack as her chauffeur; and Amanda Peet as a prostitute. In all, 10 people arrive in the hotel with no way out. When they start being knocked off one by one, it's assumed the killer (who has gotten loose) is behind it all. Once he becomes another victim, however, all bets are off.

Successfully combining elements from "Psycho," "10 Little Indians," Rod Serling, and even (in my view) "The Matrix," "Identity" stood out as the best horror film of 2003 at the time of its release and did very well at the box office -- something other quality fear films had trouble achieving in the early '00s. ("Frailty" barely made a drop at the box office.)

Unfortunately its big twist at the end of the film is too much for some people. It's a mind blower to say the least. It worked for me. At the very least, you should enjoy this film up until the moment where the truth comes out.

Director Mangold wasn't known for his horror films, instead directing chick flicks like "Girl, Interrupted" and "Kate and Leopold." But he did excellent work here. "Identity" blew away the 2003 horror fare from Dimension and Sony like "Darkness Falls" and "They."

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

Posted by Movie Searcher on April 21, 2012
This movie was an absolute classic and absolutely totally because of the ending. I have never seen a movie ending like it anywhere. It strikes HARD.

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