thatcow

Joyfully wicked

I saw American Psycho some time ago, and while my memory is faint, I recall its take on the life of a serial killer as rather dark but a surprisingly enthusiastic approach. There was a genuine feeling of creepiness in the actions of killer Patrick Bateman. I'm not reviewing the original here, but my first order of business is to say that, roughly speaking, that film accomplished what it set out to do.

This direct-to-video sequel concerns a new killer, Rachel Newman, a student in law enforcement studies at West Washington, determined to become an FBI agent. They tie this to the first movie by making Rachel the one who kills Patrick Bateman - while she was a child, and Bateman was killing her babysitter. It's a bit hoky, sure, but it does triple duty - trying them together, giving Rachel a motivation for tracking down serial killers, but leaving her off balance enough to become one. And both films really do have a hoky nature to them, enjoying the lives of these killers just a bit too much. This sequel rather revels in it, leaving behind some of the darkness in the original - however much that is possible in a film about murdering people.

Rachel's quest currently lies in becoming the teacher's assistant for Robert Starkman (William Shatner), which appears to be a direct line to Quantico (the FBI's training facility). There's several rivals for the position, and Rachel starts offing them, making the wonderful rationalization to herself that, once in the FBI, she'll be able to take enough killers off the street that there is a net good taking place. We get this via the nearly incessant voiceovers - I may rail against such things much of the time, but it works fairly decent here - as the audience, we are more of a personal confidant, a friend that gets the truth from a particular point of view, and that goes far in establishing Rachel's strong and complicated character.

Rachel goes to see a psychologist, concerned for her mental well being, going down this road. Of course, she doesn't trust the therapist, doesn't really reveal anything, but comes off as a bit of a psychotic to him. He is on to her potentials, but isn't in a real position to do anything about it. But he becomes, eventually, her antagonist, but the film, oddly enough, finds a way to have us rooting for both of these characters, even though their intentions are directly in opposition to each other. I'm fond of this result, but somehow I don't the concept taking off in popularity.

The key here is the enthusiasm - Rachel is so gung ho on what she's working on that it brings us into her world. She seems surrounded by silly people, though she is far worse than any of them, and somehow it all fits together that she would see herself as capable of helping the world. That's what did it for me here - there's not too much offered here visually - or otherwise, besides this particular attitude. Rachel is deluded, but so convincingly sure of herself, that her motivations are believable, despite some fairly whacked situations. If you can take this one on its terms, and not be concerned about the subject matter, I think American Psycho 2 may have something to offer you.

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