Tag Archives: suspense


Sometimes my ability to fall behind on reviews can be ascribed to laziness, sometimes to being excessively busy. This time, though? Sheer exhaustion. Well, and being excessively busy. Since I saw Vacancy, I’ve had one day of weekend followed by three more days of being at work. And I didn’t really get enough sleep on Sunday, much less the other days. On top of which, Monday and Tuesday were as busy as any days at work I’ve had here, with the added virtue of occurring back-to-back and did I mention on not enough sleep? My fake vacation cannot occur quickly enough. (Literally. If the place weren’t so understaffed with other people on vacation right now, I’d go ahead and take off tomorrow, lost money be damned.)

Speaking of bring trapped in a Sartreian room that has a snuff film running on loop in the corner[1], estranged married couple Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale set out to re-demonstrate a lesson we’ve all long since learned: don’t take a shortcut unless you want something bad to happen to your car in the middle of nowhere, don’t expect the stranger in the tiny town a mile or two from the middle of nowhere to actually have your best interests in mind, and don’t stay in hotels where the proprietor is funny-looking and you are the only guests. But it’s okay; these lessons are clichéd for a reason.

Because once they get into that vacant room, they start to realize just how much trouble they’re in. I mean, watching people in your room getting murdered on video has a way of putting those petty little snipes and dislikes and even deep-seated angers with one another into perspective. (Which is the difference between this and actual Sartre; his characters would have finished the conversation first, then worried about how to escape imminent bloody death on videotape. In a way, I’m the mildest bit disappointed now and wish I hadn’t though of the comparison to start with.) From there, it’s all cat-and-mouse tension that is never relieved for any longer than what is required for the audience to remember to breathe. At least one scene is genuinely disturbing, and another is pretty terrifying in a laudably subtle way. And one scene, well, simply doesn’t fit the movie. But as that’s my only complaint, I say good on them. It’s not like it’s the best movie you’ll see this year, or even this month, but it might well be the best dramatic thriller you’ll see this year. Unless that one with Halle Berry and Bruce Willis is good? I think I heard not, though. So, yeah, this one, then.

[1] I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. I could probably complain to someone and get the channel changed. But the alternative is this weird propaganda loop, and after a while the screams provide their own cold, inhuman comfort. …sorry, got distracted there for a second.

The Number 23

Numerology is kind of cool, I guess. It’s like astrology or fundamental Christianity in that you can grab the parts that you think fit with your life and run with them, and ignore the parts that appear to be irrelevant. Or even better, you can go in for that one Jewish Kabbalah group and get the best of two worlds! None of which is particularly relevant to my having seen The Number 23, except for the part where it’s all numerological its own self. And particularly with 23, since it’s been popularized via such well-known groups as the Illuminati and the Discordians and so forth.

The movie, of course, takes little note of any of this. Except the numerology, I mean, because it’s all about that. So Jim Carrey gets this book, and notices strange parallels with his own life, just off enough that it’s not literally a retelling of his childhood. And as soon as the main character takes note of the frequent occurrences of 23 happening all around him, Jim Carrey starts noticing the same things in his own life. Letters in names adding up to 23, the number appearing in odd places, birth dates, social security numbers, pretty much everything. (And, fun for the audience, it crops up in all kinds of places that he doesn’t notice even though the camera does.) Unfortunately, the number eventually drives the book guy to kill, which sets off Carrey’s paranoia about what he might do in his real life. And then he discovers a real murder which, if it’s possible to believe any of the thoughts bubbling around in his mind, can easily be attributed to the man who wrote the book.

The mystery part is pretty good, the filming of the book’s story is a delight to behold, and for the rest, any of the rough patches in believability or dialogue are smoothed over by the eternal quest for more references to 23 scattered across the filmscape. No rough acting patches that I can point to; I was pretty happy with everyone. I got to have a treasure hunt and laugh frequently, which gives it a leg up on most movies I see. (The treasure hunt part does, I mean.)