American Crime Release Date: 28 April 2004 Genre: Crime | Thriller Director(s): Dan Mintz Writer(s): Jack Moore & Jeff Ritchie Starring: Rachael Leigh Cook, Cary Elwes It goes without saying that direct-to-video films are usually simplistic. While they may seem multi-layered, most of them boil down to a single plot, with a twist thrown in […]

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American Crime
Release Date: 28 April 2004
Genre: Crime | Thriller
Director(s): Dan Mintz
Writer(s): Jack Moore & Jeff Ritchie
Starring: Rachael Leigh Cook, Cary Elwes

It goes without saying that direct-to-video films are usually simplistic. While they may seem multi-layered, most of them boil down to a single plot, with a twist thrown in at the end as a topping. That’s all good, though, as filmmakers not feeling the need to be high and mighty is one of the things I love about the genre. With American Crime, though, comes a movie that is complicated and mysterious, with the twist never really being revealed. While it’s not perfect, I absolutely loved it as a whole.

Somewhere in a podunk little town, striving TV news reporter Jesse St. Claire (Cook) and her cameraman Rob Latrobe respond to a report filed by a group of hillbillies. From the looks of it, it’s a standard case with a stripper having been found dead in a lake. The police don’t even look closely at the case, instead arresting her pimp who had a past history of beating her. St. Claire believes otherwise, and with Rob by her side, begin investigating the case. Searching the woman’s things, they find a videotape of her going about her daily duties, apparently filmed by a stalker. The video later cuts to another stripper, who has turned up missing since the tape was made.

It’s here that the station’s producer Jane Berger gets involved in the case. Not long afterwards, though, a tape is sent to St. Claire. This reveals a hidden point of interest, which leads to Berger being dismissed from her job and St. Claire fleeing to another city without leaving behind clues. Soon after they meet Albert Bodine (Elwes), who hosts Britain’s number one syndicated television show “American Crime.” He joins up with the crew, who are intent on solving the murders.

Bodine’s influence is what makes the film a huge step above others in the genre. His inclusion allows for some incredible editing and directing to occur. It’s an extremely unique style, as clips of Bodine hosting his show are cut together with both handheld footage and professionally filmed material. It’s as if you’re watching the opening of a glossy Hollywood tabloid show every time they cut to his narration. The entire movie is best described as slick.

Despite the plot seeming run-of-the-mill, it’s done in such a way that makes it impossible to dislike. For one, the real killer is never revealed. Hell, I honestly have no idea who did it. Every time you think you’ve pinpointed the stalker, you’ll trace back to a moment that reveals the character as not being responsible. It’s incredibly intriguing, and one of the best of 2005.

I wasn’t a fan of the interaction between the Bodine and Latrobe characters, as they didn’t mesh well. I’m not sure what it was, possibly the contrived way they came together, but it didn’t hit me right.

DVD: Barebones.

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American Crime, 6.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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