Thursday, June 17, 2010

To Catch a Killer (1992)

Director: Eric Till

Starring: Brian Dennehy, Michael Riley & Margot Kidder

More Info: IMDB

Plot: This made-for-television docudrama traces the cat-and-mouse pursuit of serial killer John Wayne Gacy (Dennehy). The story's two-pronged approach follows both the young detective (Lt. Joseph Kozenczak, played by Michael Riley) who relentlessly investigated the case and Gacy himself, the child entertainer, respectable businessman and lovable neighbor who raped and murdered more than 30 young boys.

My Rating: 6/10

Would I watch it again? Nope!

I hadn't planned on watching this when I did as it's three hours long. It just kind of 11:30 pm, after watching another flick and I just wanted to watch a little something, when I had to be at work early the next morning. Serial killers and police precdurals interest me as I'm fascinated by the people who commit the crimes almost as the brains behind catching them. This TV movie follows both sides closely over a 10-day period ending in the arrest of Gacy. After watching the first 20 or so minutes, I knew I was committed to the next 160.

I'm a HUGE Dennehy fan so this seemed like a great match. But while I was watching this, as fantastic is he was, I couldn't help but feel that Gacy wasn't this giant, imposing attack dog of a figure that Dennehy portrays. It's not that he was 4 inches taller than Gacy but more of Dennehy's natural towering presence that got me. It's pointless for me to speculate on how accurate he was because he was an absolute joy to watch from start to finish so I'll trust that he did right by his character.

The problem was the movie was REALLY lacking whenever he wasn't on screen. He's just that compelling of an actor. When you toss in his adversary, played by Riley, who can't possibly match Dennehy's chops in any way, it brings it down. Riley's performance just didn't do it for me. He seemed earnest enough. I don't know, maybe that big-ass mustache was hiding too much of his face for him to non-verbally convey what needs to be said.

As for Margot Kidder? She's essentially got an extended cameo as the psychic the Lt. visits. Kidder's fun and seems ideal for the role. She's been accused of playing it over the top but shit, people, she's PLAYING A PSYCHIC! And the way they tie in that stupid subplot in the final moments of the film is laughable.

When it comes down to it, there's just not enough Dennehy to satisfy me for three hours. If the Lt. had been played by Gary Oldman or someone who could hold his own against Dennehy, that would have been something to see. One of the lead investigators, Terry Sullivan, wrote a book, Killer Clown, on the investigation that is said to be an outstanding account on these events without sugar-coating anything. Upon reading that, my opinion may change a little about this picture but then you shouldn't have to read or know anything outside of the film for it to be good, right?

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