If you’ve seen any of the previews, you pretty much understand the premise of Identity: a thunderstorm forces 10 strangers together for a night in a seedy, off-road motel, where an unknown assassin proceeds to murder each of the characters one by one. It gets a little more complicated and certainly creepier as the bodies begin to mysteriously disappear and room keys are found that count down each murder.
Director James Mangold decides that about halfway through the film would be an excellent time to shake things up, and informs his audience that everything they have hitherto seen is a great big lie. Gotcha!
From this point on, you will either buy into the bizarre (yet interesting) new concept Mangold puts forth, or you won’t. If you don’t, well, you’ve wasted eight dollars, because you will absolutely loathe the remainder of the movie.
The leap of faith Mangold asks for is hardly extraordinary, and if you buy into the plot’s dramatic conceptual shift at the halfway mark, you’ll love Identity.
True to form, both John Cusak and Ray Liotta are excellent. Amanda Peet, who I ordinarily care little for as an actress, greatly surprised me in delivering a wonderful performance, which redeemed her in my estimation.
The rest of the cast, while slightly above average actors, all have the misfortune of either dying too early or being overshadowed by the finer performances of Cusak, Liotta, and Peet.
While Identity adheres mainly to the “psychological thriller” genre, there are elements of gore that no good horror flick should be without. The bloody wall, disembodied limb, and knife-wielding homicidal lunatic all make cameo appearances.
The film, however, never becomes excessively gory, and remains far from falling victim to the “slasher” movie genre.
My only criticism involves the ending, which attempts-as many horror films do-to throw in one final twist after the events have seemingly been neatly concluded.
Identity‘s twist I found to be hackneyed and somewhat forced, as if the writer and director sat down and said, “What’s the most impossible thing that could happen?” and then proceeded to use that as the ending.
Identity‘s only flaw is that it simply fails to quit while ahead.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed Identity for the quality thriller that it is. B+