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WHISPERS IN THE DARK

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Annabella Sciorra, Jamey Sheridan, Anthony Lapaglia, Jill Clayburgh, John Leguizamo, Deborah Unger, Alan Alda
Director: Christopher Crowe
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 101 Minutes
Release Date: September 7, 2004

Film **

The erotic thriller genre had been hotter than ever in 1992. A film by the name of Basic Instinct had definitely fueled the very type of movie where sex and violence went hand in hand.  All of a sudden, it seemed as if we were getting a new similarly themed movie almost every week. One such movie was Whispers in the Dark.

But where as Basic Instinct was a thriller that knew no boundaries and had the ability to jolt, Whispers in the Dark seems to be simply going through the motions. There are points when the movie seems to start going in the right direction, only to never reach it, and moments when you feel like you've seen a TV movie with more ambition. In addition, there are pivotal moments of sheer lunacy, and by that I mean plot moments that are downright ludicrous.

The plot involves New York psychologist Dr. Ann Hecker (Annabella Sciorra) who is professional but deeply troubled. She frequently has bizarre erotic dreams as a result of listening to the sexual confessions of Eve (Deborah Unger), a patient of hers. Upon hearing Eve's sultry tales, Ann doesn't know whether to give her consultation or to add some spice to her boring life. 

When Ann has a chance meeting with fellow office worker Doug (Jamey Sheridan), she decides to take full advantage of it. Despite the reservations of her long time mentor, Dr. Leo Green (Alan Alda), Ann proceeds with seeing Doug. The sparks fly, and Ann soon comes to find the very thing that was missing from her life.

But then a shocking discovery develops, as Ann comes to realize that Eve's lover discussed in her tales is the new man in her life. Eve has a public burst of rage upon seeing the two of them talking in an office lobby. Before long, the whole situation takes a horrendous turn when Eve's body is found dead in her apartment in a most disturbing way.

What follows is a murder investigation, conducted very questionably by Det. Morgenstern (Anthony LaPaglia). Two suspects turn out to be, SURPRISE, two men connected to Ann. There's Doug, the ex-lover, and John Castillo (John Leguizamo), a fellow patient of Ann's who appears to be deeply disturbed, and not sexually.

It all leads to mind-numbingly dismal climax of events, resulting in a standoff that belongs somewhere in Friday the 13th as opposed to a simple thriller. I won't reveal who the identity of the killer is, but I will say that the enormous level of overacting displayed by the actor in questioned is something that will not be remembered should this actor have an upcoming AFI tribute.

Whispers in the Dark has the appropriate ingredients for a spicy thriller, but doesn't blend them in correctly to make a perfect meal. It has potential in many areas, but fails to achieve them about half way through the movie. To sum it up properly, it's all set up and no follow through.

Video **1/2

This anamorphic transfer, courtesy of Paramount, has its weak points and strong points, resulting in a mixed presentation. For the most part, the image work is nice enough, especially in brighter tones. When the scenes go dark, the results aren't as hot. Slight softness finds its way into these portions of the movie. A bit softness is displayed as well, though nothing too harsh.

Audio ***

The 5.1 mix does benefit this movie a great deal, being that it's a suspense thriller. Areas regarding the music score by Thomas Newman, numerous suspense sequences, and dialogue delivery each get their proper share of audio power in this overall impressive sound performance.

Features (Zero Stars)

Nothing.

Summary:

In the end, Whispers in the Dark suffers from a split personality disorder in that it doesn't know whether to be a smart thriller or at the level of a cheap made for TV movie or a slasher flick at the last minute. It has a good enough build up, but it's all downhill from there.

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