|Ron L. Brinkerhoff (screenplay), Howard Swindle (book)
|Sylvester Stallone, Tom Berenger, Kris Kristofferson, Robert Patrick, Stephen Lang, Polly Walker, Christopher Fulford, Jeffrey Wright, Dina Myer, Robert Prosky and Charles S. Dutton
“I see you but you don’t see me” – The killer
FBI agent Jake Malloy (Stallone) is trying to hunt down a vicious cop killer. Tragedy hits home when Malloy’s girlfriend (Myer) is killed and still the killer roams free. Malloy takes to the bottle and attempts suicide. His friend Hendricks (Dutton) enlists Malloy in a rehab centre for cops located in the snowy part of Wyoming (and very isolated). Once there the number of patients and staff starts dwindling and it becomes clear that the killer Malloy had been hunting has infiltrated the rehab centre.
Back in 1998 (or so) I heard about this upcoming slasher flick, directed by the same man who brought us “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (1997), and starring none other than big time A-lister Sylvester Stallone alongside such veterans as Kris Kristofferson, Robert Patrick and Tom Berenger. Described as a combination of thrills and slasher elements from the likes of “Friday the 13th” with a setting that reminded you of Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Indians” (with a nod to The Overlook Hotel); my interest was piqued and then some. Then production Hell entered; “D-Tox” tested poorly, was re-written and key scenes re-shot etc. and still it tested poorly and was consequently shelved before receiving a very limited theatrical release in 2002 (and re-named in the States as “Eye See You”). One of the places it was shown in theaters was Iceland and I hurried to check it out.
“D-Tox” is not a bad film, at all, but it could have been a hell of a lot better. It starts off with a bang as it details Malloy’s dead end investigation of a cop killer who’s so far struck down nine victims. Malloy intends to ask his girlfriend Mary to marry him and he seems to be in a good place personally. But, in a particularly nasty scene, the killer strikes Mary down and Malloy’s world crumbles. It’s at this point, roughly 20 plus minutes in, that the whole rehab angle kicks in and we’re into “10 Little Indians Slasher dome”. Once inside the rehab the movie becomes too clichéd with scenarios and introduces such one-dimensional and forgettable (and too many) characters that it’s hard to keep track of who’s who and who’s actually getting killed. The dialog exchanges are very basic and not that well written, unfortunately, as meaningful conversations inside the compound could have added an extra layer to the proceedings. Group meetings with the patients yield precious little response with clichéd dialog and outbursts. The idea of such a remote rehab centre is not a bad one in my books (as many critics couldn’t get past that) but so little of it is used for effect when it comes to interaction with the inmates. That’s down to lazy writing and uninspired direction IMO.
The movie is also surprisingly sedate when it comes to brutality (discarding the opening act) and the violence is almost too tastefully handled. The central plot is an OK one as the resolution isn’t far fetched but it’s quite impossible to do other then guess work as to who’s the guilty party.
But “D-Tox” has a number of things going for it and the biggest one is a fully committed performance from Stallone. The role of Malloy calls for some major character transformations and Sly handles it like a champ. Prior to “D-Tox” Stallone had mostly received praise from critics for acting in “Rocky” (1976) and “Cop Land” (1997) but us fans knew he could pull off demanding roles. Whether being happy, suicidal, indifferent or mad; Stallone brings it all to the table here and his effort certainly elevates the finished product. The rest of the cast is game but has precious little to do and it’s mostly Robert Patrick who leaves some sort of impression. The cat and mouse game between Malloy and killer is fairly well played out and the isolated surroundings and snowy locales certainly help in creating a brooding atmosphere that’s adequately handled. In the end, though, you still feel that this film should have been better.
“D-Tox” is in serious need of some loving from niche labels like Arrow Video, Shout Factory or the like as there is probably loads of unused footage, an ending that was discarded and one hell of a story to tell of behind the scenes drama worth documenting. One can hope!