3 Stars
Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 79 minutes
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A pair of parallel stories run in Sean Findley’s film “Landers.” One deals with two childhood friends Ivan and Matt; the other is about a serial killer whose victims are truck drivers. Dubbed the I-40 Killer by the FBI, his murderous activities have traveled across the country and are heading to Landers, CA where Ivan and Matt take a hiking trip. Upon receiving this knowledge, you wonder if their paths will cross and which friend will die. Will it be Ivan, the pizza-delivering pothead? Or will it be Matt the almost-college-graduate who recently signed a contract to pitch for the San Diego Padres? After watching their interactions during their drive, you think that Matt could be the killer. There are no grounds for your suspicion, but there’s something about Matt’s monotone demeanor that doesn’t sit well with you. Your attention is only diverted when a hitch-hiker, Vince, joins Ivan and Matt on their way back to Los Angeles. With piercing dark brown eyes and a lunatic’s grin, Vince is now your prime suspect.

As a psychological thriller, “Landers” utilizes geographic isolation, absent modes of communication (Matt and Ivan don’t have cell phones and they can’t get their hands on a regular phone), and irony to enrich suspense. You know that Vince cannot be trusted, Matt seems to feel the same way, but Ivan thinks that “he’s just a little weird.” The director spends a significant amount of time establishing and examining the tension that exists in Ivan and Matt’s friendship, but he doesn’t neglect the other plotline (the I-40 Killer). Findley balances the development of the Matt-Ivan story and the serial killer portion so that you never think he’s focusing too much on one or the other. Since “Landers” relies heavily on plot twists that are directly linked to the characters, this discussion must end here.

Posted on March 30, 2004 in Reviews by

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