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The Alphabet Killer

3.5 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A ten year old girl is found brutally murdered outside the small blue-collar city of Rochester, New York, and obsessed police detective Megan Paige (Eliza Dushku) suffers a mental breakdown while trying to solve the crime. But when the child-killings resume two years later, Megan's return to the investigation also brings back her own horrific hallucinations. Even if she can prove a 'double initial' connection to the slayings, will she hang onto her sanity long enough to catch a psychopath?


In the spirit of suspense films and television shows that focus on the sleuth’s attempt to make something out of senseless violence, Alphabet Killer is less about the murders it details than about the detective, Megan Paige (Eliza Dushku of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), who suffers mentally for studying brutality. Though opening scenes show young girls slayed at various wooded Rochester, New York crime scenes, the film quickly digresses into Megan’s stressed relationship with her co-detective lover, Kenneth Shine (Cary Elwes), who watches her obsession with the case spiral out of control. As murders continue, Megan gets psychic leads and is haunted by the ghosts of the wrongly deceased, but cannot solve the case. Megan’s diagnosis as a schizophrenic complicates matters greatly, and elevates the film into deeper story, especially when one senses, through subtle filmic clues, the creepiness of Megan’s therapist, Richard Ledge (Timothy Hutton). Some silly, dramatized enactments of mental illness on Dushku’s part do not help convince the viewer through fine acting, though one may be willing to look past this in hopes for pending potential spookiness. And the conundrum posed by Megan in her therapy group is engaging: manic people do often excel due to intuition, yet it is their ability to experience the world differently that gets them into trouble. Although the ghosts hallucinations are unconvincing, and Dushku probably could have used more research before she took the role, Alphabet Killer captivates because it shows how convoluted layers of reality can confuse even the sharpest detective. The disturbing thing about Alphabet Killer is not the film itself but the idea behind it: that the majority of what we know and trust is illusory, and that truth is discovered best through madness. --Trinie Dalton

Stills from The Alphabet Killer (Click for larger image)

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary with Producer Isen Robbins and Director Rob Schmidt
  • Audio Commentary with writer/producer/actor Tom Malloy
  • A To Z: The Making of the Alphabet Killer
  • First Victim - Alternate Scene

Product Details

  • Actors: Eliza Dushku, Cary Elwes, Timothy Hutton, Tom Malloy, Michael Ironside
  • Directors: Rob Schmidt
  • Writers: Tom Malloy
  • Producers: Eliza Dushku, Aimee Schoof, Ashley Holloway, Brandon Baker, Daniel Sollinger
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: January 6, 2009
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001HVZO7A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,457 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Alphabet Killer" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I'll admit, I have a morbid fascination with serial killer movies. They harness a raw energy that is almost overwhelming. There is often a strange connection with the victims, the detectives, and sometimes even the killers themselves(or is it just me?). Plus there is a stark fear generated by recognizing a pattern and watching people struggle to prevent further mayhem.

THE ALPHABET KILLER is a pretty well-crafted, fictional tale. It's derived from some unsolved murders that took place in Rochester, NY, during the early 70's. A few young girls with matching initials would turn up dead in nearby towns that were spelled with the same first letter (i.e. Carla Castille in Churchville, Wendy Walsh in Webster).

A female detective(Eliza Dushku) is on the case, and she quickly becomes obsessed with cracking it. Actually, she's the one that starts to crack. She gets completely consumed, the mystery eats at her mind as she starts talking to herself and hallucinating (same thing happens to me when I watch reality TV shows).

Anyway, the movie takes a pretty dramatic shift early on when this woman loses control and attempts suicide. She is diagnosed with scizophrenia and admitted to a mental hospital.

Several times throughout this movie, we're shown the visions that this crazy woman sees--ghastly dead children that constantly haunt her. This is done for shocking effect, but I thought it was completely overdone. Kinda seemed like a ripoff of a Japanese ghost story film.

The story then proceeds as the police are completely baffled by the subsequent Alphabet murders. The mentally unfit cop is put back on the case, possibly due to her past romantic relationship with the chief. And of course, crazy is not something you can just sell on amazon.com.
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Format: DVD
I have been a big fan of Eliza Dushku since I saw her in "Bring it On!" I also like her character in TV series "Tru Calling." She was in "Wrong Turn," which is not surely the greatest horror movie, but still worth watching. That is why I am interested in "The Alphabet Killer" directed by Rob Schmidt, who is also the director of "Wrong Turn." Moreover, this serial killer suspense is, the film claims, "based on the truth."

In fact, "The Alphabet Killer" is very loosely based on the "Alphabet Murders" that took place in Rochester, in the 1970s, but the film's script focuses a police detective Megan Paige (Eliza Dushku) investigating a brutal murder of young girl Carla Castillo (victims' names are changed). Megan is an able police officer and her fellow detectives (including her boyfriend Kenneth played by Cary Elwes) know that, but she becomes too obsessed with the case. She starts seeing things and hearing voices, but is this because she is "delusional"? Or is it because of some supernatural power she alone can feel?

Two years later, after medical treatment, Megan is back in the police department. Then a dead body of a girl is found. The killer is still on the loose.

The story intrigued me at first, but about 30 or 40 minutes in, I started to lose interest. The acting is very good. The grayish-colored photography captures the bleak atmosphere. But the film doesn't tell us much about the cases or weird things Megan sees or hears. Eliza Dushku does her best, but her character and pains doesn't convince because we are not given the detailed account of the murder cases, not even the hypothetic theories. In fact, the character of Megan aside, the storyline is pretty conventional.

A detective story with an emotionally unstable heroine is not a bad idea.
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Format: DVD
The Alphabet Killer was a pretty good movie. The acting was good and the story was good although all the information wasn't accurate.

I wanted to see this movie because of the cast and because it was based on true events. This was a great movie to watch one time but I don't think I could watch it again. It didn't have quite enough mystery or action for me to want to watch it again.

Storyline: A serial killer starts killing little children so it is up to the detectives and police force to try to figure out who it is. At first no one believes that there is a serial killer on the loose and they all think Megan (Eliza Dushku) is getting too attached to the case and they think she is over processing the case. The detectives cannot solve the case so they let it go much to Megan's dismay. Megan starts getting haunted by the first little victim to the point she tries to commit suicide so she has to get mental help. During that time more victims are killed so Megan begs the police force until they let her back on the case of the Alphabet Killer. Rent the movie to find out if Megan can solve who the Alphabet Killer killer is.

If you like CSI I think you'll like this movie but again I'm not sure it you will want to watch it over and over again because it's kind of a simple movie.

I recommend renting this movie to see if it'll be one that you'll want to watch over again.
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Format: DVD
Well, it's hard for me to give a movie more than three stars if I can figure out the ending (right down to the smallest detail) mid way through. This movie wanted to be good, it really did. It wanted to hang with the likes of se7en and Silence of the Lambs (given that's a really big "want"), but in the end this movie will dwindle into renter's obscurity.

The director, Rob Schmidt, does manage a few intriguing moments coupled with a touch of suspense, but if you really pay attention you'll solve this riddle with ease.

On a side note, I still can't take Cary Elwes seriously. He was great in movies like "Robinhood: Men in Tights" and the classic "The Princess Bride", but movies like Saw left me laughing hysterically when I should have been cringing with fear and angst (the desperate reaching for the phone scene still makes me laugh). Albeit his performance here was much better than Saw, I still struggle with him in serious roles. As for Timothy Hutton and Eliza Dushku, both are strong actors and did the best they could with what they were given.

In the end I'm rating this film 3 stars (would have been 2.5 had it not followed an even worse film--HORSEMAN staring Dennis Quaid. More to follow on that travesty!)
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