Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Mark of Cain

(Bruce Pittman, 1985)
Either this film was shot piggyback on 1986's "Confidential", or else Pittman is the first director to come with his own principal set - both films linger (and LINGER) on the same big old country home. Like that other production, "The Mark of Cain" features remarkably terse, vivid compositions that keep on surprising you, and combined with some nice creepy scoring, they create a disquieting, off-kilter mood. But soon you realize that all this laying on of cinematic effect is not only beside the point of the evil-twin narrative, it's actively undermining it. And the diversion could well be deliberate, because this is an incredibly lazy script: halfway through, just when you're expecting things to kick into high gear, things grind to a halt instead, with great blocks of time dedicated to actors lounging uncertainly within their striking compositions waiting for the narrative to resolve itself. Really, though, the gambit won't fool anyone, as what few suspense sequences there are get clunkier and more lethargic as the film goes on. In fact once the setup is over, the film is almost entirely devoid of shock, let alone invention, let alone insight. A waste.

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