Release year: 2000
Director: Tarsem Singh
Screenwriter: Mark Protosevich
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vince Vaughn, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Dylan Baker, Colton James, Jake Thomas
Ratings: 1 Oscar nominations: Best Makeup.
Psychologist Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) participates in a new experimental technology in which she enters the mind of patients to try to help them by accessing their subconsciousness. FBI agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn) talks her into entering the mind of a comatose serial killer (Vincent D’Onofrio) to try to discover the location of his last victim before it is too late.
If you are familar with the work of Indian director Tarsem Singh (Mirror Mirror, 2012) you might have guessed that you are in for a visual treat when watching this movie, but it would be almost impossible to guess excactly what you are about to witness. The fact that big part of the movie takes place inside the subconsciousness opens up for incredible landscapes, inventive details, stylish settings and costumes, and as serial killer Carl Stargher enters the picture, creepy, disturbing and gory surroundings. Lopez (Out of Sight, 1998) delivers one of her best performances as the caring psychologist who risk her sanity to heal those of others. No matter whether she goes from fragile and scared, through calm and carefree to scared and almost insane, she convinces and helps drag us into the story by creating a character whose well being we truly care for. But the one who really lifts this movie up to another level is D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jackett, 1987) who with his mesmerizing performance manages to go from pityful to completely insanely creepy in the blink of an eye. He is the one who stays with you at the end of the movie and leaves you unsure whether you feel comfortable with that! As seen in the few other movies he has made, Singh has a true gift for visual details (unfortunately/fortunately put to use to make nightmarish visions here), skills that are put to full use in the scenes taking place in the mind. Some of them are designed to showcase terror while some obviously are there to bring about a sense of awe, something they succeed with. Though a more than descent movie, this is mostly recommendable for the inventive and astonishing visuality, just be warned that some of those are literally what nightmares are made of.
Director Tarsem Singh asked Tara Subkoff (she plays one of the killer’s victims, being held in a cell filling up with water) during her interview if she could swim, to which she responded that she could and that she had been a lifeguard. It turned out that she could not go under water without holding her nose. Singh would have switched her role with Catherine Sutherland, but it was too late and there was not enough money or time to re-shoot.
Picture copyright: SF film