And Then There Were None
(also known as
The Ten Little Indians)
is one of the scariest mystery novels ever. Ten seemingly random and very
different people are drawn to a secluded island where they are cut off from
contact with the outside world. Soon, they are being systematically and
violently killed by an unknown assailant that may or may not be one of
This storyline has caught the fancy of many filmmakers over the
years. The novel has been filmed five times. It has also inspired a slew
one could reasonably argue that the book set the template for
the entire slasher film subgenre. But unlike the
Friday the 13ths
and the I
Know What You Did Last Summers
of the world, Christies novel had a subtle humor and series of truly
surprising twists and turns and realized that the violence was secondary to
the sense of dread and suspense of the story.
is one of the better
films in recent years to tap into the
And Then There Were
in its homage, even to the point of having one of the characters
Christie storyline when the
group is trying to figure out what is happening.) This film
relies on its sense of surprise, so I will do my best to not give away too
much and ruin it.
Ten travelers end up in a rain-drenched Nevada motel.
The roads are flooded and the phone lines are down, naturally. There is the
former cop-turned chauffeur (John Cusack) transporting a vain film starlet
(Rebecca DeMornay). After an automobile accident a
nerdy middle-aged husband
(John C. McGinley) is trying to save the life of his injured wife (Leila Kenzle) while taking care of her son from a previous marriage. A prostitute
(Amanda Peet) who is moving home to start over is stranded when her car dies
in the rain. A young couple... not even a day past a Vegas wedding and
already arguing constantly... is also pulled into the vortex. Throw in a
peculiar hotel manager and a strangely ineffectual cop (Ray Liotta) who is
transporting a violent killer (Jake Busey.) All they have in common is that
they all have the same birthday.
What follows is a series of coincidences,
plot-twists, clues, red herrings, spectacular deaths and recriminations
amongst the survivors. Most of it makes no sense on the surface and yet is
spectacularly spooky. There is also another storyline going on about a
deranged serial killer (Pruitt Taylor Vince) who is having a hearing to stay
his execution. Who is killing everyone? Why does everyone involved seem to
have hidden motives and not be who they seem? What do the goings on at the
hotel have to do with the scenes at the courthouse?
The audience is finally
let in on what is happening about fifteen minutes before the films end.
While it is certainly an original and unexpected plot idea, I dont think it
will be a satisfying one for most viewers. That disappointment saps the
final twist of most of its power, as does the fact that the last surprise
again, trying not to give too much away
a psychologist making an
assumption that it seems he probably wouldnt make. But even if the ending
is something of a cheat, everything that leads up to it is so stylishly done
and skillfully acted that
still warrants seeing.
©2003 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved.
Posted: April 28, 2003.