Here we have a film made by Rob Schmidt and is sort of based on true events. While there were a series of crimes committed in Rochester, NY in the early 1970s, the basic premise of the case is the fact foundation for this film.
In New York in 1971-1973, three young girls, aging 10-11 years old, were kidnapped, raped, murdered and dumped, each in a different city. Each girl had double initials, first and last name starting with the same letter and were subsequently dumped in cities where the name of the city started with the same letter of the victim’s initials. These cases were never solved. There were similar cases in California in approximately 1977. These cases were never solved as well.
We have a detective for the NYPD, Megan Paige (Eliza Dushku), who suffers a nervous breakdown after not being able to solve a case, a case that she believes is the work of a serial killer. But, she is the only one that thinks this. Her dedication and stress in trying to solve the case add to her breakdown, causing hallucinations of the victim. She requires treatment and hospitalization which, ultimately, causes the loss of her job and boyfriend/fiancé, Kenneth (Cary Elwes), who is also an investigator and is eventually asked to head the task force for the murders.
Megan is treated for her breakdown and attends group therapy, run by Richard (Timothy Hutton), who is bound to a wheelchair. She also gets a job back in the PD in an office position. After there is another murder, she convinces the department to let her participate in the investigation. Her participation is not well received by the other officers involved in the task force.
Then, as the case progresses, they make an arrest. It is a man who was detained after a domestic violence encounter. They find evidence (white cat hair) that they believe links him to the murders and they disband the task force.
Megan, still not convinced, questions the evidence linking this suspect to the murders and thinks police have planted it to relieve the stress of the investigation and close the case. Still thinking there is a killer on the loose, Megan continues her own investigation, against orders from her superior officers.
As she goes out on her own, she runs into a priest at a church that all the victims attended. The priest is really creepy and has pictures of young girls in his room. Thinking she is onto something, her stress levels skyrockets and she has another breakdown.
She is held at the hospital for fourteen days by court order. They have her sedated with Thorazine to try to prevent her from being a nuisance. This is not a good plan on their part. She escapes the hospital by breaking the arm of a hospital worker and exiting the building.
She seeks refuge at Richard’s house, her group therapy leader. She starts snooping around her new temporary place to stay and finds that Richard has a cat. A white cat. She gets suspicious and searches some more. In his home she finds a St. Michael’s church memory book. That’s the same church all three victims had attended. See opens it and finds that Richard was a Math Counselor there.
Just as she’s putting it all together, Richard catches her in his room nosing about. She confronts him about knowing the victims of her cases and never saying anything to her about it. She asks him why and he basically tells her that, if he had said anything, she would have known who the murderer was.
Then, he leaps out of the wheelchair and lunges at Megan, attacking her. He subdues her by slamming her into a wall repeatedly. While he is dragging her bound, semi-unconscious body through a parking garage, he is telling her about how he’s not going to rape her but, he is going to kill her.
He throws her into the backseat of his car to take her away to kill her. Once they get to a secluded location he tosses her to the ground and prepares a needle for injection which is supposed to render her unconscious. Then he plans on making her death look like an accident. As he’s doing this, she frees herself from her rope bindings, kicks Richard and begins to run. Richard pulls out a gun that he has on him and starts shooting at her as she flees.
Now, the chase is on.
In a very smart move on her part, Megan hides in a van nearby and when Richard is close enough, kicks the door open, nailing him right in the face. He drops his gun and the struggle ensues. She gets her hands on the gun and shoots him in the foot as he jumps over a rail into a river below. She fires multiple shots at him in the water, not knowing whether she’s hit him again or not. She runs to check and make sure he’s dead but, he’s nowhere to be found.
All of this intense interaction causes her to have a psychotic break. She’s readmitted to the hospital again. They strap her to a bed, heavily sedate her and leave her there, staring into an observation camera, crying.
Then we cut to Richard, who is still alive, at a church service taking Communion.
Megan, in her broken mental state, remains tortured by the spirits of the victims.
Richard, goes free. Megan is locked up with no apparent release date. But, she vows to get out and find Richard…and kill him.
While there are some similarities between this movie and the facts of the real cases, the movie is not a depiction of what actually happened in real life.
Now, that being said, I do believe the film makers did a good job fictionalizing this story. The drama they developed went well with the story and added good “fluff” to the film.
I know they tried really hard to give us a good twist at the end but, I guessed who the killer was at 26 minutes into the movie. I don’t know if that’s because I know of the little tricks they use to try to surprise the viewer or if it was really that obvious. And there are filming tricks they use to try to surprise you. Things like not using the actor playing the bad guy’s name in the opening credits or not showing a certain person much in a movie until the twist is revealed, etc. There are a number of them. (Maybe I’ll do a blog post about those. Let me know if you guys want something like that.)
I will say that I do enjoy watching Timothy Hutton. He’s not a bad actor and I’ve seen him in a few movies where he is a killer. He plays the part pretty well. Also, Bill Moseley (Otis from House of 1000 Corpses) has a small part in this film. I’m a fan of his too. I have a hard time sometimes with Eliza Dushku simply because every time I look at her all I see is a cheerleader from “Bring It On”. It’s disturbing…at least to me.
But, I was entertained with this film and didn’t even check to see how much time was left on it. I only checked the counter twice, once when I made my decision who the killer was and then again when Bill Moseley came on screen. That’s it. So, it definitely held my attention.
And it IS possible to surprise me. “The Killing Room” was a film that got me. But, it’s rare that it happens. So, I DO take that into consideration here.
I could recommend this to any suspense/thriller lover. It’s definitely worth watching. I don’t think it would have been worth paying to go see at the theater but, I do think it’s still worth seeing if you like the genre.