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Friday, April 23, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
By Moira Macdonald
But those with a taste for twisted shivers may well find this film, based on a horror novel by Madison Smartt Bell, diverting, and its cast is certainly talented.
Goran Visnjic, intensity personified, plays a hypnotherapist who's able to read people's minds; Shirley Henderson, she of the button eyes and helium voice, is a London cop who hopes he can help her quit smoking. When she learns of his special talent, she enlists his aid in the puzzling case she's trying to solve: a ritualistic serial killer who abducts children.
The two make an offbeat, morose pair, and for a while it's intriguing to follow them around London as they search for clues in crumbling buildings and oddball shops, with some other good actors popping up: Miranda Otto as Visnjic's exasperated wife; Paddy Considine ("In America") as a strange little man who runs a game shop under the train tracks.
But we don't get much of a sense of them as people Henderson's semi-Goth cop, in particular, remains a black-clad cipher. (In the one brief glimpse we get of her home life, even her nightie is black.) And the creepy subject matter, much of which involves children, ultimately becomes stifling. By the end, it's all a mad swirl of needles, blood, head-bashing, mysterious symbols, screaming and overall nastiness.
You can't blame Henderson for needing a cigarette this film is hard on the nerves.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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