(director/writer: John Raffo; screenwriter: William Preston Robertson; cinematographer: Bernd Heinl; editor: Sean Albertson ; music: Brian Langsbard; cast: Peter Gallagher (Johnny Scardino), Frances McDormand (Alice), John Lithgow (Larry Skovik), John Kapelos ( Walter Lippinscott), Jack Black (Jerry), Geoffery Lower (Woody Washawski), Charlie Spradling (Lorraine), Michael Weatherred (Ernie), William Preston Robertson (Earl); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: R; producers Karen Weaver/Karen Severin/Michael Paseornek; Lionsgate; 1998)

“The film’s problem is the protagonist is not a sympathetic figure.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The film premiered on HBO and then was released on home video. John Raffo(“Big and Mean”) directs this tawdry neo-noir thriller, and co-writes it with William Preston Robertson.

The morally vacant and depressed widower Johnny “Skidmarks”  Scardino (Peter Gallagher) is a freelance crime scene police photographer specializing in car crashes. He works for Sgt Larry Skovik (John Lithgow) and his partner Woody Washawski (Geoffery Lower). Skidmarks moonlights as a photographer for a gang of blackmailers who take motel photos of straying husbands caught in the sack with hookers. The gang leader is Walter Lippinscott (John Kapelos). while the driver is Earl (William Preston Robertson) and the hooker is Lorraine (Charlie Spradling).

Fear overcomes Johnny when Lorraine and Earl are death victims Johnny photographs at a suspicious crash site, and he suspects one of the marks is seeking revenge.

The lonely Johnny meets the lonely recovering alcoholic Alice (Frances McDormand) in his former brother-in-law Jerry’s (Jack Black) fast food burger place, and tries to confide in her and learn to live again. But things become hairy when Johnny realizes he’s a marked man.

The film’s problem is the protagonist is not a sympathetic figure, and the story is so gloomy without being entertaining.

REVIEWED ON 1/17/2017       GRADE: C+