Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Suspect Zero

Illustration for article titled Suspect Zero


  • Joining the crowd of films that borrowed Seven's tone and visuals without borrowing its quality
  • Expecting a psychic twist to distract viewers from that fact
  • Being the worst film ever set in Albuquerque (even if it might also be the best)

E. Elias Merhige

Tone Of Commentary
Rehearsed, carefully enunciated, and deadly serious. Merhige treats Suspect Zero more like a cultural ritual than a film. He sets the tone with his opening lines: "I did not set out to make a serial-killer genre film. I did not set out to make a film about serial killers. I set out to express something much more deep about the nature of the unconscious, about the nature of justice, about the nature of how the human mind works." All those hackneyed serial-killer-movie visuals must have sneaked in by accident.


What Went Wrong
There's nothing wrong here. In fact, everything's even more right than it looks. Merhige didn't just turn up the sound effects for a cheap jolt in a moodily lit office scene. No, it's "almost like the Greek chorus, we see those fax machines screaming at us… telling us of a very bleak future."

Comments On The Cast
Was there a cast working on this? Merhige never gets around to mentioning stars Aaron Eckhart, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Ben Kingsley, apart from discussing their characters.


Inevitable Dash Of Pretension
Why dash when you can slather? Some excerpts from Merhige's closing monologue: "You must address the underneath, or it swallows you… And the only way to create a true catharsis, which is what I fought to create here in this film, is to go into the darkness and embrace the shadow therein… And to approach that degree of honesty, I think there has to be a spiraling inward into those unknown places, those abysses within ourselves. And that way, we can heal not only our society, but we can heal the future from eventually devouring itself." So forget religion, philosophy, and diplomacy: B-grade horror thrillers will save the world.

Commentary In A Nutshell
"[Ben Kingsley]'s revelation is in front of the toilet, as he vomits out all of his grief, and sadness, and madness in that hotel toilet."


Share This Story

Get our newsletter