American Psycho

Harold, you're my lawyer, so I think you should know... I've killed quite a few people.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * · · · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )

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This is another one of those car wreck movies that you know is going to be painful to look at, but can't seem to stop yourself. All of my friends told me how bad it sucked, but I just couldn't believe that a movie about a psycho in modern corporate America could be that bad. It has a premise that seems very hard to screw up. Our hero is a monster trapped in the aristocratic world of upper class New York. If he isn't using fifty five different kinds of facial soap, he's cutting women into small pieces and storing them around his apartment in little zip lock bags. Sure, sounds like it will be a hell of a movie, but it frankly isn't. There are a lot of combinations of various artistic elements that put together a really classic act of violence. The ear scene in Reservoir Dogs, the Singing in the Rain scene in Clockwork Orange and practically all of Natural Born Killers really have an excellent formula of music, direction, camera work and good old American glorified violence. American Psycho tries to mix all of this stuff up, but instead of creating cinematic gasoline, they just made some goop that didn't do much of anything except smell bad. Part of the problem is that it is too surreal. There really is no grounding given to allow the audience to understand this bizarre world of artistic foods and custom business cards. It isn't like Office Space where we all know how much fax machines suck, or Fight Club where we have all felt like getting tasked with a new "primary action item" was about exciting as chewing on soggy toast. There is never a point where you can even understand what the hell the interaction with these characters is supposed to be. It starts off with a bit of excitement where our anti-hero screams at a bartender "You are a fucking ugly bitch! I want to stab you to death and play with your blood." then smiles pleasantly when she turns around, having heard nothing over the noise of the club. But then he doesn't make good with the threat until much much later. There is a wonderful gem of a scene where he has a deep and emotional conversation with his secretary, who we expect is in love with him, while he secretly holds a nailgun against her head. For the first hour and a half I thought I was watching a pretty bad movie until my boss called and told me he had just finished Where the Heart is and suddenly this one got a lot better. Even a day later I have forgotten all of the bad parts and seem to only remember those little gems within. The ending is a total let down, though, and instead of making the rest of the movie more exciting, it simply drops it onto the floor with a lot of unanswered questions. The DVD has a 16x9 enhanced 2.35 to 1 picture and a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Both are unexceptional, but not noticeably bad. If you are going to already piss off the fake moralistic burocrats that bullshit their way into the whitehouse, you might as well have some fun with it. Instead we get a movie that will still be used as an example of the glorification of violence, but without all the excitement and adrenaline of a good ultraviolent action movie.