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Ed Gein (2000)

Review

Author
Date
05-07-2003
Comments

Ed Gein is certainly a film with the right idea. One could take the life of a famous serial killer, and turn into nothing but a moribund slasher flick, doused in the crimson blood of so many mangled and uninteresting bodies. However, writer Steve Johnston (with a little nudging from star and executive producer Steve Railsback) instead choice to focus on Gein as a common man who is very, very sick.

It's just a shame it didn't work better.

There are many very good things about Gein, the main one being Railsback, as the eponymous murderer. His deeply Method acting allows the being of Gein to swallow up the actor until there's only character left. The portrayal is historically accurate, down to the inexplicably wry smile Ed was said to have frequently worn.

The supporting cast is at or above par. Most of them play the kind of Wisconsin Gothic characters one comes to expect from the nth retelling of this real American horror story. However, Carrie Snodgress (as Gein's über-Christian, domineering mother) gets the Shatner Award for delightful overacting. Not since Mrs. White has a religious fanatic been this much scary fun.

Although Johnston's script certainly has the right mood, it lacks a certain depth. For something that would like to be a profile of a murderer, the film doesn't give any more insight into its main character than something like a sensationalist "America's Most Heinous" grocery store paperback.

If Johnston's surface-level skimming of his subject hurts Ed Gein, director Chuck Parello's (Henry 2: Mask of Sanity) pacing deadens it. Each scene seems to take about a minute longer than necessary, and some sequences are just completely superfluous. Everything is so achingly slow that getting all the way through the 90 minutes is a little bit of a chore (but somewhat worthwhile).

Still, serial killer fanatics (you know who you are) should find this dramatization a welcome addition to their shelves full of casefiles and memorabilia. It's mostly accurate in its details (although some names have been changed). Just be sure to dry clean your suit of human flesh before you watch.

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