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May 2010

iMurders

cast: Tony Todd, Billy Dee Williams, William Forsythe, Charles Durning, and Gabrielle Anwar

director: Robbie Bryan

93 minutes (15) 2008
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Anchor Bay DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 3/10
review by Mark West

iMurders

This is a film that really doesn't know what it wants to be. It starts off with a quick flashback, of a loving couple getting caught by a wife, then zips forward 10 months to Sandra Wilson (Terri Columbino) moving into a new apartment. We know she was the woman from earlier, but it's not acknowledged - she's a lonely meeting planner (how hard could that job be - in fact, it changes to an events planner later on) who likes to chat with her online friends in a chat-room on 'Facespace' (yep, that's really the name). Her new landlady, Christine (Joanne Baron) is equally lonely and the pair strike up a friendship, strengthened by their liking of another neighbour, Joe Romano (Frank Grillo), an ex-cop whose brother was killed.

If that's what the film was about, that would be fine. But it isn't. Instead, we get introduced to the rest of the chat-room (every single one of them), some of whom seem to have a link to either Sandra, Joe or the killing of his brother. These include Professor Uberoth (William Forsythe), and his wife Carol (a criminally wasted Margaret Colin); Janet Ling (Miranda Kwok), a thoroughly irritating lesbian who spends time talking to her shrink Charles Durning (surely he has better things to do in his retirement?) and is so annoying, I was desperate for the killer to visit her before she could talk about "666" again; and Lindsay Jefferies (Gabrielle Anwar), a scarred model who is represented by Robert Del Gado (Billy Dee Williams), a corrupt lawyer who seems to be linked to the ex-cop somehow but I'd given up by then. In addition, there's a phone-sex operator, a special effects guy and a kid who didn't do much but had a spectacular death.

Just when you think the film couldn't contain any more characters, we get introduced to FBI agents Otis Washington (Tony Todd) and Lori Romano (Brooke Lewis), who have been trying to catch Billy Dee Williams' character but somehow manage to discover the murder spree in the chat-room. As my wife and I said: eh..? I should point out three things about Lori here - she's Joe's sister, she's a terrible actress and she's one of the producers.

The film has far too many characters, all in different parts of the US (though places all look remarkably alike) and most of whom have very little to do with each other. This creates a disjointed atmosphere, to the extent that you're never sure of who the main character is, how the characters relate to each other, or quite what's going on. The filmmakers attempt to throw the viewer off with more red herrings than Billingsgate fish market, but by the mid-point, I personally couldn't care who was going to die or who was actually killing them. And eventually revealing who the killer was - and then having the film spend almost 10 minutes showing us the clues we should have got - just adds insult to injury.

It's not a badly made film - it is proficient enough and most of the cast turn in reliably good performances - but it has no focus, or purpose. What it does have is too much time on its hands (it could easily be 10 minutes shorter) and far too many characters (did I mention that before?). On the plus side, it does have a really funny bit. Janet is at the shrink because her girlfriend, who we helpfully see naked, was very popular on Facespace. Janet tells a bored looking Charles Durning "She had 10,000 requests for friends; men, women, whatever".

I don't know where Janet lives (well, it's Boston, the title card kept telling me), but in my life, once you get past men and women, you're pretty much done. During Sandra and Joe's love scene - which, literally, comes out of nowhere and appears against character for both of them - they listen to the radio (they're on the east coast) and during a "two minute news broadcast," the headline item is about the special effects bloke from the chat-room getting killed - on the west coast, several days later; which does strain the credibility a bit.

I didn't like this film at all, it was too long and too complicated and not nearly as clever as it thought it was, and I wasted 93 minutes of my life to bring you this report. I couldn't bring myself to recommend this film at all and, having seen it on sale in HMV for �10, all I can say is that if you've spent your money, go and see the Citizens Advice Bureau about false advertising or something. iMurders is a dreadful waste of time.

My screener copy had two extras. A trailer that shows every gore effect (there weren't many) and little else and an alternate ending where, essentially, the killer gets shot in the head by a random passer-by... This isn't the worst film I've seen recently - I suspect Seed will hold that crown for a long, long time - but it's certainly the one that I wished had finished before even half of its running time was done.



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