Dear Mr. Gacy (Blu-ray / DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring William Forsythe, Jesse Moss, Emma Lahana
Directed by Svetozar Ristovski
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
For years people have been fascinated with serial killers. What makes them tick? What could have made them commit such heinous crimes? Between December 1978 and March 1979, twenty-nine bodies were found on or around the property of one John Wayne Gacy. Twenty-six of the victims were found buried in his crawlspace, one was found buried beneath the concrete floor of his garage, another was found buried in a pit beneath a barbecue in Gacy's back garden, and the twenty-ninth victim was found buried beneath the joists of Gacy's dining room floor. Three additional bodies had been found in the Des Plaines River between June and December 1978. These were also confirmed to have been victims of Gacy. Finally, in April of 1979 another body was discovered on the banks of the Des Plaines River, bringing the total number of Gacy's victims to thirty-three.
After his trial Gacy was incarcerated at the Menard Correctional Center in the town of Chester, Illinois, where he spent fourteen years on death row. While there, he corresponded with hundreds of people. He was a superstar selling his Pogo the Clown paintings for big money. As his execution date drew near, he befriended one of his many pen pals, a young student named Jason Moss. After his experiences with Gacy, Moss went on to pen the book The Last Victim, which is what this film is based upon.
Dear Mr. Gacy asks a couple of questions to the viewer - How far would you let the devil into your head, and once there, is there any way to get him back out with minimal damage to those whom you love?
As you would imagine, Moss (played here by Jesse Moss, no relation) and Gacy (Forsythe) end up developing a really strange relationship. Moss thought he was manipulating Gacy into letting him inside his head so he could deliver a stellar term paper by lying to him. Getting close to him by telling him what he wanted to hear. Sending him pictures. And Gacy thought he was manipulating Moss into doing certain unspeakable acts for his own twisted sexual gratification and then some. In actuality the two seemed very much alike, and by the time they eventually met face-to-face when Moss visited Gacy in prison before his execution, the relationship he had with Gacy was nothing short of a hotbed of frustration, male bravado, and absolute mental chaos.
Director Svetozar Ristovski captures all of this tension perfectly thanks to standout performances by his leads, especially Forsythe. His performance is nothing short of riveting, and every second he's on screen, you cannot take your eyes off of him. Be warned, though, that this is not your average serial killer movie. There are no outrageous moments of typical slasher movie fodder, and as a result a lot of fans could be bored with the mental chess game presented here in stirring detail. Dear Mr. Gacy is a thinking man's horror movie every step of the way, and by the time the credits roll, you will be thinking.
Needless to say, yes, by now you know that the Blu-ray looks and sounds better than its standard definition DVD cousin. Honestly, though? Given the setting of this movie, it will make little difference. If you have the tech, go for it; but if not, you'll be just fine either way.
I'll never figure out why most bad movies get stellar treatment in terms of supplemental material, and some really good ones come out nearly bare bones. Such is the case here as all we have in terms of extras is a twenty-two-minute featurette entitled The Gacy Files: Portrait of a Serial Killer, which examines Gacy's crimes through interviews with childhood friends, lawyers, and police, and both theatrical and teaser trailers. Really? That's it? Not even a commentary? Mystifying!
Dear Mr. Gacy is a cautionary tale as powerful as it is fascinating. It is one of those movies that will stay with you long after you've finished watching it. If you're looking for horror with a healthy dosage of reality, look no further.
4 out of 5
1 1/2 out of 5
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