Twisted review by Mike Long

One genre that I’ve never warmed up to is the “thriller”. In my opinion, these films, especially those released within the last 20 years, are merely slasher movies and murder-mysteries gussied up with fancy photography and famous faces. Ashley Judd has certainly starred in her share of “thrillers”, including High Crimes, Double Jeopardy, and Kiss the Girls (the latter being the only one which I’ve seen). Now, Judd is back with Twisted, a thriller so pointless that it’s a wonder the filmmakers were able to capture it on film. Perhaps Ashley Judd will now approach her agent and ask them to take “thrillers” off of her preference list.

Judd, sporting a haircut very similar to mine, stars in Twisted as San Francisco police officer Jessica Shepard. As the film opens, Jessica has been promoted to homicide detective after capturing a known serial killer. This pleases Police Commissioner John Mills (Samuel L. Jackson), the man who raised Jessica after her parents were killed. Jessica is assigned to homicide and her new partner is a Mike Delmarco (Andy Garcia). On their first case, they examine the corpse of a male found by the water. Jessica is shocked when she recognizes the man as a one night stand which she’d met in a bar. She informs her superiors of this, but she is allowed to stay on the case. Things get weirder when Jessica and Delmarco are called in to look at a second body, and Jessica realizes that she’s slept with this victim as well. At the same time, Jessica has been blacking out each night after having a glass of wine. Is she merely getting drunk and passing out, or is she committing murder during these periods? As the bodies begin to pile up, all of which have a connection to Jessica, it becomes evident that she must be a killer.

Twisted is a promising film, as it contains an intriguing central premise. In most of these films, the police are searching for a killer and we’re given a series of suspects. But, it’s creative that the main character may in fact be the killer, unbeknownst to them. Unfortunately, that’s the only creative aspect in Twisted and the rest of the film is a total waste of time. For starters, there are no likeable characters in Twisted. Jessica is an angry, violent woman who enjoys having sex with strangers. Delmarco is a letch who hits on his co-workers. Mills is Samuel L. Jackson. None of these characters have any redeeming features. The only likeable character is police therapist, Dr. Melvin Frank (David Strathairn), but he’s ineffectual in the film. And if you forget that you don’t like Jessica, don’t worry, everyone in the film calls her a slut, so you’ll have constant reminders. The films borders on being a comedy at times, as there is scene-after-scene of Jessica drinking to excess, passing out, and then waking up to learn that someone else has been murdered. The dialogue is laughable and the relationships between the characters are unrealistic. The unmasking of the killer is somewhat telegraphed and the finale is ludicrous. The fact that I don’t like “thrillers” doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate a good movie, and Twisted is the farthest thing from that. The movie is an embarrassing mess full of actors who should have known better.

Twisted comes to DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film is being released on DVD in two separate versions, one widescreen and the other full-frame. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer looks pretty good, as the image is sharp and clear, showing basically no grain and no video noise. Much of Twisted takes place at night or in darkened areas, but the image is never too dark and the action is always visible. The colors look fine, and the black tones are true. The image is slightly soft at times, and there is some noticeable edge-enhancement in some scenes. The DVD’s Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is serviceable, but not spectacular. The audio is always sharp and clear, and there is a nice use of stereo and surround sound to convey a sense of mood with many sound effects. However, the bass response is sluggish and only accompanies musical cues.

The Twisted DVD carries a few special features. We start with an audio commentary from director Philip Kaufman. This man has directed some good films, such as 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchersand The Right Stuff, but even if you’re a fan of his work, it’s a challenge to listen to his droning, monotone voice on this commentary. It doesn’t help that his talk meanders and he seems to talk more about San Francisco than the film. (Can you blame him?) “Creating a Twisted Web of Intrigue” is an 11-minute “making of” featurette which features comments from the cast and crew and a nice amount of behind-the-scenes footage. Kaufman talks about the story concept and what makes the story different, while the actors talk about what it was like to work with Kaufman. We meet real-life San Francisco Inspector Maureen D’Amico and Dr. Forrest Fulton, the Technical Advisor for Behavioral Science in “The Inspector’s Clues to the Crime” (10 minutes), as this pair discusses how the film compares to their jobs. Peter and Philip Kaufman discuss the film’s locations in “San Francisco: Scene of the Crime” (7 minutes). The DVD contains 10 deleted and extended scenes, which can be viewed with commentary by Kaufman. Surprisingly, there is no alternate ending here.

2 out of 10 Jackasses

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