This is about the true-life murder spree that shook L.A in the hot summer of 1985 carried out by the very twisted and very scary Richard Ramirez. 'The Night Stalker'.
Now 'The Night Stalker' was a scary man. He came into your house, you're home. Into your bedroom, stood and watched you sleep...then tortured you, then shot you. Then he might just feel like removing your eyes and raping your corpse. In your own snug, safe home.
You don't need anymore than that to make this a scary 'plot'. This kind of reality was scary and nasty enough.
And the actual events, be they Ramirez's background and twisted killings, or the long, long investigation...where also unnerving and fascinating enough.
Yet what do we have here? MTV on some bad speed.
Director Chris Fisher has obviously been overdosing on 'Marilyn Manson'/'Coil 'rock videos and "Natural Born Killers" (missing all that films power and strength and instead simply using some of it's techniques in a very bad way) and uses endless hyper fast jumps and edits, speeded up film, multiple fast cut visuals, frenzied 'head shaking' opticals and 'Holywood' era style 'Marilyn Manson' make-up, all scored to some (it has to be said) pretty impressive 'Death/Speed' metal warblings. All supposedly add to the 'power' of the story. Where really all does is sucks all the genuine scariness out of it.
As for how good Brett Roberts is...Well it's hard to say as he is given nothing to do but pull faces and submit to that gratuitous head shaking mess.
Worse we have some totally out of place naked, bald, white painted 'Demon' that Ramirez (Bret Roberts. A white guy that looks more like Trent Reznor with girly hair than the Hispanic killer) shouts at and who is supposedly 'in' his body.
A jerky speeded up 'fiend' that at one point is shown almost being 'cast out' of Ramirez before slamming back into him again.
What is this now? A real life serial killer flick or some supernatural possession opus?
Is this some 'defense' of Ramirez? That somehow he was not in control and was instead made to perform acts because of this 'being'...
Or is it not to be taken literally? That it simply 'represents' his madness?
Either way it fails.
Either because it's false and quite simply rather silly, or that it shows a lack of understanding that true, scary madness the like of which Ramirez had (which he controlled enough to carry out his murders and to keep one step ahead of the Police anyway) does not need such cheap 'horror/rock video' visualisations to make it scary.
One scene in the film actually shows up how all these MTV styling is needless.
The sequence is a Woman who has just had her Husband shot and now finds herself and her teenage Daughter at the mercy of a true monster in their own home. She begs Ramirez to take her and spare her Daughter. And as she is raped the terrified girl hides (in a tight crying ball) in the closet and listens. Things do not get more scary or just plain nasty. And it's a rare case where it is shot 'normal'. No fancy tricks, no frenzied head gymnastics and no bald Demon. And it's the most effective scene in the whole damn film.
Then we have a screenplay that twists the facts.
We have a fictional Female, Hispanic Detective named Gabriella Martinez (Roselyn Sanchez) given the lead role, just so we can have out of place scenes of racist and sexist hurdles for her to overcome.
And she is also given the real life scare the male Detective on the case had where he thought his Family was in danger. A very personal event for that real Detective. Yet here it's given to a work of fiction.
The plot also likes to make whole things up. And never with success.
The capture of Ramirez is actually very famous and pretty damn unique. He was in reality spotted and chased and captured (and almost killed) by members of the Hispanic/Latino community. A classic real life example of comic strip style 'people power'.
Yet here we have none of that and instead have a simple 'showdown' between Martinez and Ramirez that is just plain dull.
The film also ends with his capture so we have none of the actual 'facts' of the court case either (where that iconic serial killer photo was taken of Ramirez).
Add to this the lack of early background, the lack of 'scale' in how long he killed for and how many victims he claimed, and we are left we nothing but a loud, flashy, emotionally empty, fact abused pile of nothingness.
Sadly this garbage is Produced by the ever-watchable Danny Trejo (who also takes a largish support role as Martinez's Cop partner) from, amongst other things, "Con-Air" (the rapist) and Michael Mann's truly wonderful "Heat".
Oh well...One to forget for all concerned.