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)