aka Murder Seen
Director – Rob King, Screenplay – Marilyn Webber, Producer – Mark Reid, Photography – Anton Krawczyk, Music – Rob Bryanton, Special Effects Supervisor – Jay Robertson, Production Design – Hugh Shankland. Production Company – Mindseye Pictures/Libra Pictures/The Movie Network/Thomega Entertainment/Seen Productions
Nicole Eggert (Zoey Drayden), Callum Keith Rennie (Detective Mike Keegan), Timothy Bottoms (Detective Frank Stepnoski), Will Sanderson (Craig Masters), Kent Allen (Ivan Stark), Gerald Linton Young (Lieutenant), Wendy Anderson (Dr Julia Eshenberg)
University student Zoey Drayden is woken at night by a telephone call from someone screaming for help but dismisses this as a prank. She then begins to have dreams and flashes. The next day, Zoey realises that she is having clairvoyant premonitions of fellow student Jeanette Collier who has been abducted. Without knowing it, Zoey had bumped into Jeanette in the hall just before the abduction. Zoey is able to successfully trace the images in her mind to a phone box where Jeanette managed to escape and make the call to her before being recaptured by her abductor. However, when Zoey goes to the police with the information, detectives Mike Keegan and Frank Stepnoski have her arrested, believing that only the abductor would have such information. Zoey tries to plead with them to believe her story and save Jeanette before she is killed.
This minor Canadian film is a venture into the clairvoyant thriller theme. Indeed, the clairvoyant thriller has become its own mini-genre with tv movies like The Eyes of Charles Sand (1972), Visions (1972), Baffled (1973) and Empathy (2007) and cinematic/dvd outings such as Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), Double Exposure (1981), Cassandra (1987), Fear (1990), Murderous Vision (1991), Dead On Sight (1994), Sensation (1994), Hideaway (1995), A Deadly Vision (1997), After Alice (1999), In Dreams (1999), The Gift (2000), Troubled Waters (2006), The Cell 2 (2009), Let Me Die Quietly (2009) and In/Sight (2011).
The majority of these are routine. The problem with these films is that first and foremost they are thrillers – either murder mysteries or variants on the serial killer thriller where the clairvoyant gets a connection to the mind of a killer and/or can see through their eyes – and the fantastic element (the clairvoyance) is never made to serve anything more than thriller plot dictates. Crucially, these films do not allow their psychics any more visions than ever seem necessary to the solving of the crime – in other words, the scriptwriters have no interest in the clairvoyant element conceptually.
Murder Scene is no different from any of these other films in its lack of conceptual ambition. The thriller story it tells is routine. In fact, what proves irritating about Murder Scene is the lack of basic plausibility to some of its plot – no police department would ever arrest someone as a murder suspect without any corroborating evidence other than their telling a fantastic story. In fact, the arrestee would have the mandatory right to have a lawyer present who almost certainly would have demanded that the police produce evidence that directly implicated their client in the abduction. Elsewhere the film trades in tired cliches such as contriving reasons for the heroine to venture into the killer’s lair alone. The film is directed by Rob King with no more than routine competence.
On the plus side, the film is far better cast than the entirely second-rate material warrants. One of the great surprises is the lead performance from Nicole Eggert. Nicole Eggert’s main claim to fame was as a regular on two seasons of Baywatch (1989-2001) before going onto trashy bimbo roles like The Demolitionist (1996). With Nicole Eggert’s presence you expect to see something like Pamela Anderson pretending to be a university student but Eggert refuses to glamorise the part in any way and plays a convincingly ordinary university student – her reactions to the situation she finds herself in are surprisingly on the nose and realistic. Also good is the greatly underrated Canadian actor Callum Keith Rennie. Rennie has had numerous supporting parts in various Canadian-shot American films and tv shows and is due a big breakthrough part some day soon. Here he makes for a handsome and believable leading man. However, the best performance in the film comes from Timothy Bottoms. The uncontrolled intensity with which Bottoms enters the show takes one aback at first and it is to his credit that Bottoms turns the character around by the end of the film to make us see sympathetic facets inside him.