|C. Thomas Howell in sinister mode|
Bryan Spikes (Mark Bierlein), who investigates insurance fraud, meets a pretty bartender named Heather (Mena Suvari), and then gets murdered. Then writer Alex Forrester (also Mark Bierlien), who looks like Bryan without his beard, comes to town and claims he is doing a book about -- Bryan Spikes, who allegedly murdered several people. What's going on here? Since most people will sort of notice that Bryan and Alex resemble one another, the final twist in this picture may not come as much of a surprise, but there's enough confusing stuff to almost hold the attention [in a roundabout way] between the opening and the climax. But the emphasis is on the word confusing, for even when you've figured it all out the movie doesn't make much sense. Mark Bierlein, the star of the movie, also co-wrote the screenplay and served as executive producer. Bierlien is not untalented [as an actor at least] but he isn't the best casting choice and, frankly, could use a little more seasoning. He is not without appeal, but making mediocre vanity projects is probably not the way to go. The whole movie seems like something a small town drama club cobbled together with borrowed equipment -- it looks more or less professional at times but has the veneer of something cheap and fifth-rate. Exceptions to this are the first-rate musical score by Misha Segal, and the performances of C. Thomas Howell and Mena Suvari, who is talented but needs to stay out of movies like this. Tom Arnold is the only other "name" in the cast besides Howell; he's supposed to be funny but isn't. There are some good scenes, but not enough.
Verdict: Amateur Hour and a half. **.