Monday, October 22, 2012

The Mean Season (1985) Review:

Usually in crime related thrillers, the viewer is exposed to the killer quite early. Everyone is introduced to what they look like, the faces they make, and how they speak. And along with this key element, are the police. This is obviously one of the main materials that's needed for a "police" thriller, but even that is not the main substance in this film. But what makes this film different from the others is that the killer is NOT exposed until very late in the movie. In my opinion, this is a great psychological effect that heightens the senses of the viewer and makes them more intrigued about seeing the killer. I'm disappointed that this film wasn't critically acclaimed. The body of the plot is more or less the same as Law Abiding Citizen (2009): an individual with psychological issues makes calls to a contact and tells them whose next to be killed.

Malcolm Anderson (Russell) being lectured by policemen
Kurt Russell stars as a Miami news reporter who's tired of writing stories about the recently deceased/murdered. Unfortunately, his co- workers are not willing to let him go so easy. Co-starring with Russell is Mariel Hemingway who plays his girlfriend. Both of them want to move out of Miami to escape to a place that is less crowded. Unfortunately, Russell's character, Malcolm Anderson, is having a hard time convincing his boss that he's tired and wants to leave. Kurt Russell is great actor and he plays well at being a tired reporter. Mariel Hemingway is convincing as Russell's girlfriend and although we never see her actually doing her "job" as a teacher in this film, she is good at caring for her and her boyfriend's safety.

Anderson and his girlfriend Christine (Hemingway)
The real problem arises when a person calls confessing that he killed one of the people Anderson reported about. The killer is played by Richard Jordan. I think Jordan is a very competent actor. I say this because of the way he portrays his character. The personality of the killer is very stealthy. Whenever his voice is heard on the phone, it has a very unpleasant sound. The way he talks isn't smooth; he pauses with his sentences. This can make the conversation sound even more uncomfortable. That is how good Richard Jordan is at his character. Every time I listen to his voice it still gives me the goose bumps. It's unfortunate that his career never took off to big heights. I know that he was cast in many movies, but very few were well known films.

Lastly, what really makes this an effective thriller is the suspense, and the music. The suspense in this film is different from the regular action thriller. For every scene, the viewer must listen to what is going on. Without the conversations, the viewer will be lost on what is happening. I would suggest watching this film like it was regular horror flick. The difference is that the story is on a more personal level. It's very rare someone will have a spirit haunting him or her inside their house, but when serial killer is on the loose, one can never really feel safe.

Adding to the suspense is the musical score provided Lalo Schifrin. There are two different tones that Schifrin puts in this movie: the first is when the film is focused more on the press. Schifrin has the music sound like everyone's busy and scrambling about. The other side to that is when Anderson talks to the killer. When the camera is focused on them, it has a very ominous feel, in a sense that something bad will happen in a couple minutes. All these factors of music, suspense, and character personalities add up to a strong thriller. I'm glad I was able to see it.

The Mean Season is a gripping crime thriller that deserves more than what it has minimally achieved. The tension between scenes are really agitating thanks to a chilling performance by Richard Jordan.

Points Earned --> 10:10

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