(director/writer: Paul Marcus; screenwriter: Jeff Miller; cinematographer: Brian Pearson; editors: Kate Evans/Liz Webber; cast: Kiefer Sutherland (Det. Mickey Hayden), Henry Czerny (Harvey), Polly Walker (Professor of Para-psychology, Vera Swann), Stephen Ouimette (Gideon Woods), Gary Hudson (John Hatter), Eve Crawford (Margaret Ellison), Colin Glazer (Tom Ellison), Ronn Sarosiak (Detective Ray); Runtime: 101; Promark/HBO; 1999-UK/Ger)

“A mediocre thriller that seems to be made just for a video release.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A mediocre thriller that seems to be made just for a video release. It’s entertaining in a limited way, as it plays like a conventional crime TV series drama. But it unfortunately gets bogged down with a clichéd alcoholic and despondent detective as its star, a predictable and uninviting formula serial killer story, and plot devices that are unbelievable. But what really brings this film down, is its ludicrous ending. It can best be viewed as a bad film that can be enjoyed for how bad it is.

Mickey Hayden (Sutherland) is a veteran burned-out detective; he is constantly drunk because his wife left him for his slimy boss, Lt. John Hatter (Hudson). While off-duty, he chases a shoplifter and in his pursuit he takes a fall. This triggers in him the ability to experience psychic reactions, as he starts seeing things about the crime; and, he also notices by touching an article of clothing, that’s part of the crime, he could be stimulated to see even more. At first skeptical of this ESP, he learns how to deal with it as the story progresses.

Drinking in a gay bar, because he wants to suffer alone, Mickey meets an eccentric psychic, Harvey (Czerny), who familiarizes the angry, self-hating detective with his newly acquired ability. Harvey tells Mickey–I see things, too. When the newspapers start pushing a serial killer story in their headlines and Mickey’s assigned the case, he gets the help through Harvey of a para-psychology professor, Vera Swann (Walker).

To the drunk detective’s surprise, he’s put in charge of this glamorous case by the boss who hates him. It doesn’t make sense at present, but by the time this predictable story winds down it becomes evident why Mickey was given the case over more capable detectives.

The serial killer who is known as Jabberwocky, leaves signed notes on his dead vics. Newspaperman Tom Ellison receives warnings from the killer when he’ll strike again. Tom goes to meet Jabberwocky after one such warning note. But he disappears. After a series of gruesome and unconnected killings, all with the trade mark of Jabberwocky, Mickey is able to see things that took place ten years earlier in the death of Alice Lurie in a house owned by Magaret Ellison, the newspaper publisher and sister of Tom. He says that’s when the serial killer started. Hatter is so upset that he’s pursuing that angle, that he takes him off the case; but, this seems to be forgotten since Mickey just continues working the case without any repercussions.

The middle part of the film takes its sweet time developing, as it shows many suspects as possibly being the serial killer. The only action shots are of Kiefer seeing the brutal crimes being committed in his mind.

It’s all very forgettable stuff, as the actors are going through the motions of acting and the lame script fails to develop anything interesting to say about the psychic policeman.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”