Greetings again from the darkness. There is a theory that to catch a killer, one must think like a killer. Young John McCormack is in the next room when his detective father, frustrated at being unable to put away a serial killer, commits suicide. Flash forward twenty years, and John is now himself a police officer intent on finishing his father’s work … and gaining a bit of revenge in the process.
The story picks up as John (Chris Coy) has tracked Francis Visser to a small town, where he is known as Eugene the town barber, a gentle and dignified friend to all. Scott Glenn portrays Eugene as a slow-shuffling elderly gentleman who doesn’t much appreciate profanity, rudeness or poor decisions. He is even friends with the local police chief (Stephen Tobolowsky), who accepts Eugene’s word on just about any topic.
The cat and mouse game between John and Eugene plays a bit like Sleuth (1972) where each participant sees himself as smarter than the other. Only this time, there are 17 previous murders to go along with the developments after Eugene agrees to mentor John on the fine art of stalking, planning and killing without evidence.
Beginning with a gypsy proverb: “You have to dig deep to bury your father”, the film seems to use that quote figuratively and literally, as being buried alive plays a role alongside the detective father’s ruinous obsession. Supporting work is provided by Kristen Heger, as John’s co-worker (and more), Olivia Taylor Dudley as the waitress looking to John for fun, and Max Arciniega as Eugene’s barber shop employee.
More attention to the John vs Eugene piece, and a little less to the various sub-plots, could have tightened up this thriller and elevated it to an even more suspenseful level. Mr. Glenn and Mr. Coy are both excellent, and at their best when sharing a scene. It’s a nice first feature from director Basel Owies, who has an eye for nuanced characters with a dark side.
watch the trailer: