Well, after the cinematic autopsy of "The Cold" (see previous review); Unca Chaoz is woozy but still standing (well lying down actually, since I do this from my bed - but you get the idea). So I decided to bounce back with...
"Hands of a Stranger". The movie has a bit of a [i]film noir[/i] quality to it. We see a guy get shot during a drive-by prior to the opening credits. Next, he's whisked away in an ambulance as paramedics try to save him. In the hospital, the doctor tries in vain to save the man. After dying, we get a rather interesting scene between the now pissed doc and a cop who wants to know more about the guy and how he died. We get some deep chatting about life, death, and crime - nothing overblown though.
Meanwhile (cliche, I know) - we have a concert pianist playing before a filled auditorium. We get shots of hands doing all sorts of things: mimicking the keystrokes, grasping a fellow hand, and ultimately clapping. The pianist, Vernon (Paul Lukather) is very successful but his closest friends are his sister, Dina (Joan Harvey) and his agent, George (Michael Rye). As he rides off to an afterparty, he gets into a deep conversation with the cabbie. Of course, the cabbie's kid plays the piano, too. Inevitably, the cabbie tries to show Vernon a picture of his kid (couldn't wait for a stop light?) and ends up in an auto accident.
At the hospital, Doc Harding (James Stapleton) is back losing another patient - Vernon. This time he wants to cut off what's left of his hands. His agent goes "Nonononono" and asks the doc how [i]he[/i] would feel if he lost his hands. Somehow, Doc Harding convinces himself and George of a hand transplant using the hands of the other guy who died earlier.
Dina (the sis) is really pissed at the doc - she feels that he's using him as a guinea pig. So Doc (now pissed, too) shows Dina her brother's mangled hands. Then we get a philosophical exploration of hands, personalities, and quite possibly mind control. Needless to say, everyone's pissed (even the music score); but eventually they all calm down - but the sis wants to know where those hands came from - who did they belong to?
Eventually the bandages come off and God (I mean the Doc) tells Vernon that the operation of the success. Vernon then freaks out when he realizes he has that these aren't the "original equipment". Soon, Vernon starts get really creepy - he accidentally burns up an ex and then visits the cabbie's kid who played the piano. All the while, the hands' fingerprints come up empty in identifying the original owner.
In the end, Vernon cracks up and goes on the obligatory killing spree. The doc feels guilty but at the same time allows his ego to get the best of him. The ending is anticipated but somewhat unfullfilling.
There's a lot of talking for a "horror" flick - some of it surprisingly deep (and sometimes just hokey). Just as surprisingly, the acting is not that bad either with Haddon actually pulling off a good (if not exactly realistic) cop and Lukather playing the moody Vernon. Considering the type of film; there's a good dose of drama involved as well. There's also a lot of talk about creating beauty and hands. I can't help but wonder if the guy who made this was a hand fetishist.
Hey - movies have been made for worse reasons.
If there was one major flaw in this movie; it's that it tries to be more of a psychological thriller but can't pull it off because of the horror/sci-fi angle. Plus the plot - which is pretty tight in the beginning - begins to unravel in the second half of the film.
[b][i][u]Fun rating:[/u][/i][/b] 8 - standard late night horror flick. Decent story and just a tad above average acting. Likeable but talky - think in the vein of "The Incredible Shrinking Man". Break out the popcorn.
[b][i][u]Interest rating:[/u][/i][/b] 6 - worth a watch or maybe two. Definitely worth it if you haven't seen it. Not sure about a buy, but borderline rentable. Most likely to be liked by folks who like a little psychology in their horror/sci-fi. Gore and shock hounds will need to look elsewhere. Fans of general films will like the drama in addition to the horror part.
[b][i][u]TOTAL RATING:[/u][/i][/b] 7