27 April 2002 | b-a-h TNT-6
Atrocious, but unintentionally funny in places
Oh, my goodness. I would have never thought it was possible for me to see a thriller worse than Domestic Disturbance this soon, but here it is. Armed with rotten plot, terrible editing, stilted acting, and headache-inducing 'style' (sorry, I have no other words for it), Sanctimony is the kind of movie that almost forces you to re-evaluate an entire genre; that is, this film is so bad that even the thrillers I condemned as complete failures now seem a little better.
Now, not only Sanctimony is a terrible film in itself, it also succeeds in the difficult task of ripping off better movies and do a pathetic job with it. Right from the main titles -- nothing but a blatant attempt to reproduce the ones from Se7en -- I was under the impression that something didn't smell quite right. As soon as the movie started with a series of corny, wanna-be hip quick-cuts full of gory images and bombastic colors, I knew where that smell was coming from.
It turns out that two policemen, or rather policeman Jim Renart (Michael Paré) and policewoman Dorothy Smith (Jennifer Rubin), are investigating on a murder spree in Vancouver. A serial killer, known as "Monkey Killer" (what a menacing, chilling nickname, uh?) for his working methods, has killed quite a lot of people. You see, this nut apparently works following the proverb "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" and cuts eyes, ears, and tongues out of his victims. So far, six eyes, six ears, and three tongues. In very ingenious fashion, Renart and Smith figure out that the Monkey Killer is probably going to kill other three people... well, because he probably wants to complete the number 666. So suddenly the film focuses on Tom Gerrick (Casper Van Dien), a young, successful, good-looking businessman, with a dreadful temper. And that's where the rip-off of American Psycho kicks in.
So we follow the life of the two police officers and the young psychopath, none of which is interesting in the least, until they finally meet. Along the way to that, a disco where Renart barely misses Gerrick unintentionally offers us one of the funniest scenes in recent memory: Renart goes in the back of the disco club, because... well, just because the script tells us it's a suspect place; then, with one single punch in the stomach, Renard gets rid of a big guard who blocks the path, and the guard is never heard of again? Does this scene strike anyone else as completely unrealistic?
Anyway, after another murder, Gerrick turns in as a witness, but Smith and especially Renart immediately suspect he might be the killer. In typical Basic Instinct fashion, Smith gets some dates with the young businessman, under the assumption that she might discover his true identity.
I won't spoil the ending but it is, quite simply, an embarrassment; there are contradictions, some plot holes, issues that never get resolved, and especially there is one last scene where a brutal mass murder, supposed to be shocking and sad, comes off as such laughably overdone and nonsensical that I frankly can't imagine how anyone could not laugh at it.
At 87 minutes, Sanctimony is really pushing it. You never care about one single character, because they are all so flat (not to mention boring) that you know exactly who is who the first time you meet them. You are never pulled into the story, because the scenes are connected through weak plot devices when not downright unnecessary and out of place. The acting ranges from average (Van Dien) to downright atrocious (Rubin, and most of the supporting cast); the music is abysmal generic techno, and the photography is one of the worst I have ever seen. Of course, like every fiasco of the genre, we are provided with a little bit of gratuitous nudity.