The modern serial killer thriller, as established in 1991 by Jonathan Demme's expert The Silence of the Lambs and then further in 1995 by David Fincher's superb Se7en, has deteriorated into an uninventive collection of familiar tricks, tropes and tiresomely murky cinematography. If regurgitation has become the genre's guiding principle, there are far worse sources to plagiarize than the canon of Alfred Hitchcock, which is more or less what first-time writer-director David Ondaatje does with The Lodger, a modern update of the 1913 Marie Belloc Lowndes-penned mystery that was the basis for Hitch's 1927 silent film The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog. Predictably, the results aren't nearly as inspired when viewed in direct comparison. Worse still, they're also not inspired when viewed through the prism of the past two decades' worth of likeminded cinema (and the network-TV behemoth C.S.I.). Stolidly including every cliché in sight while failing to keep things tense or intriguing, it's a film that deviates not an inch from its rickety template and, consequently, disallows its sturdy cast from maneuvering in ways that might bring some novelty to the cat-and-mouse tale.
categories Cinematical