DISORDER *** USA 2006 Dir: Jack Thomas Smith. 103 mins
Writer-director Jack Thomas Smith’s feature debut features Darren Kendrick as a short order cook readjusting to society after incarceration for a double-murder he claimed was committed by a masked, hooded assailant. His psychological recovery is hampered when a young, vengeful couple break into his house, while the masked “killer” starts to reappear at regular intervals.
The script’s focus on a sympathetic, vulnerable alleged “murderer” released from psychiatric care strongly echoes the plight of Norman in PSYCHO II; Kendrick’s character even fulfils the same thankless day job Bates does in the earlier film. At heart, this is a heavily contrived but pleasantly old-fashioned murder-mystery in the mould of the many thrillers Jimmy Sangster and Brian Clemens were turning out in the 60’s and 70’s. It’s also punctuated by slasher movie tropes: a woodland backdrop, a traumatised protagonist, cheap hand-on-shoulder scares, violent flashbacks and, of course, copious red herrings. It’s overlong and over-indulges with a multi-twist climax in which every key character shows up with perfect timing to help unravel a succession of shock reveals. But Kendrick is effectively haunted and it’s a competent, fun trek through familiar territory.
Review by Steven West