Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Rosary Murders (1987)

I’m very fond of forgotten thrillers from the eighties, either supernatural films like Lady in White or Black Rainbow to murder mysteries like Jack’s Back and Apartment Zero. Mystery was a big part of these thrillers and they often had original ideas and good acting. I also like how many of them seem to have a giallo-esque atmosphere. I never heard about The Rosary Murders when I found in a secondhand shop a while ago, but the cast of Donald Sutherland and Charles Durning made me interested, and of course the Catholic themed story…

Someone has killed Father Lord, but not even the Catholic Church would like to admit that. But when a nun also is killed, apparent suicide, Father Koesler (Donald Sutherland) has to go to the police, because Father Lord she also holds an identical rosary in her hand. Soon the the killer stops hiding the murder behind natural causes and suicides and just shoots his victims point blank. But he wants to play a game with Koesler and confesses to him that he will continue killing priests and nuns. But because of the vow Koesler took as a priest he can’t tell anyone, and he’s alone to find the killer and stop him…

Directed by Fred Walton, who did the very uneven When a Stranger Calls and the 100% lousy April Fool’s Day, this is a more mature and classy production, but still something that looks like a TV production, just with slightly higher budget and more ambitions. The first part of the movie is clearly the best, with a strong mystery and some character presentations. Both Sutherland and Durning is two of my favourite actors, and they’re playing the opposite parts so good. Sutherland as the liberal, laid back priest who wants to change stuff in his church and Durning has the conservative, almost aggressive priest who wants to change nothing and thinks the church has no faults at all.

Both characters feel real and I would say the best thing with the film is their performances. Now, this is based on a book so I guess the story is to blame on the original source material, but I would have preferred if the mystery stayed a mystery, but now it just becomes a cat and mouse game and we know who the cat and the mouse is. That can work in my cases, but here it just takes away the tension. Even with an angst-ridden Koesler walking around being worried that his co-workers will be killed never feels that interesting.

But in the end The Rosary Murders is a nice decent thriller which still is an enjoyable piece of celluloid, and at least a lot better than April Fools Day, but lacks the thrills that actually shows up in When a Stranger Calls from time to time.

1 comment:

Wes M said...

Good stuff, I seem to remember this title from the video-era. This is the kind of film that TV stations show in a dead-of-night slot to fill up some empty space so I'll look out for it if it comes my way...