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‘Identity’ gives suspense — just not fast enough

Horror movies are not expected to be good. While there are some specimens, such as The Exorcist, that surprisingly manage to be scary, well-acted and suspenseful at the same time, most films in the genre fall prey to poor writing, overused ideas and not enough gore.

Identity falls on the better side, but still close to the middle.

Due to a series of accidents and coincidences, 10 strangers become stranded in a motel with a killer among them.

The characters include people from all walks of life — a motel manager, a prostitute, a newlywed couple, a family, a washed-up actress, a limo driver, a cop and a convict he is transporting. As the strangers begin to interact with one another, they are slowly killed off, one by one.

But that’s not the end of the story. In a completely different setting, a judge is waiting for a transport of a convicted murderer who is to be executed in 24 hours. The emergency meeting has been called to try to save the convict on the grounds of insanity.

The movie begins as any bad horror flick will — with rain, lightning and cut-off heads in the dryer. It ends on a slightly different note. The surprising plot twist (two, actually) give the film slightly more depth than one would expect.

The acting is surprisingly good for a horror movie (the cast includes John Cusack, Amanda Peet and Ray Liotta) — it is convincing, even though no character stands out as being spectacular. The performances are well-acted, with no exception, but to look for more than skill and charisma would be asking for too much.

The sequences of gore, while plentiful and even creative, are not as spectacular as avid horror fans may want them to be.

One of the main flaws of the film is its lengthy exposition. The movie starts off slowly, doesn’t pick up until late, and even after that slows down again. Fortunately, the plot twists manage to keep viewers interested.

Working in favor of the film is occasional dark humor, which is well-inserted and aptly used as comic relief.

Identity will probably not achieve the status of a classic movie, but in the light of horror movies that have come out in the past year, it makes every other film trying to fit into the genre of horror inferior.

The tagline may be stupid and the poster may look tacky, but Identity can carry the ball. A good twist paired with good actors give an unexpected outcome to what some may label a failed spoof.

Horror, R, Running time: 87 minutes

Contact Olga Robak at