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Sony Pictures, 2003, Rated R, 1 hr. 27 min.

Ten people are caught in a savage rainstorm that floods the only roads out of a tiny Nevada town, and are trapped at a motel for the night.  Unfortunately,  one of them is a psychopath, and one by one, the strangers are being killed.  As the group of 10, plus motel worker Larry (John Hawkes), begin to learn more about one another, it becomes clear that they have something in common and that they were all drawn to the motel for a terrifying reason.

As we watch the stranded strangers, we are shown a sub-plot about a murderer whose lawyer and doctor are trying to stop his execution by proving he is insane.

The 10 strangers of the ensemble cast are led by the always fabulous John Cusack as Ed, a limo driver hired by a prima-donna actress (Rebecca De Mornay) to take her to California. An almost unrecognizable De Mornay, who I've always thought looks a little bitchy anyway, plays this role perfectly, and I would have liked to see her more in the film. 


Ed and Paris (Cusack and Peet)
Ed and Paris (Cusack and Peet)

Larry, Rhodes, Paris, and Ed (Hawkes, Liotta, Peet, Cusack)
 Larry, Rhodes, Paris and Ed (Hawkes, Liotta, Peet, Cusack)

I love Cusack's acting, and without his intensity, the movie would not be half as good as it is.  Playing a former cop turned limo driver, Cusack brings a sincerity to the role that makes you discount him as the killer.  I do, however, think they could have gotten away with a little less eyeliner...  

Also at the motel are Ginny and Lou (Clea DuVall, William Lee Scott), a newlywed couple; the York family - stepdad George (John C. McGinley), young son Timmy (Bret Loehr) and mom (Leila Kenzle), who has been seriously hurt in a car accident; a cop (Ray Liotta) and his prisoner (Jake Busey); and Paris (Amanda Peet), a prostitute trying to make her way back home to Florida.

Liotta is immediately on the radar screen of possible killers, as he just looks evil.  Even when trying to be heroic or helpful, his eyes are cold and unnerving.  The rest of the cast seems a little wooden and the girls seem to be there just to scream and cry.  

The movie is reminiscent of Psycho, with the uneasy atmosphere of the motel and the unsuspecting guests who are set up for slaughter.  

I'm not going to give away the "twist" that all movie reviewers are touting, but I will say that I was not that impressed or surprised by it and found it a little disappointing.  I should note that the two people I saw this film with thought just the opposite and liked the movie much more than I did.  

I think there could have been more plot development before the "twist" is let out of the bag.  And like I said above, once the "twist" is discovered, I cared less about what was going to happen to the strangers.

This movie tries a little too hard to be different and I would have found it an even better, albeit standard Hollywood thriller, without the twist.  But what can I say, I like traditional thrillers.

Do you think we got this movie totally wrong? Agree with us? Or just want everyone to know your thoughts? Then start a discussion of this movie in our forums!




Sony Pictures






87 Minutes







Actor / Actress


John Cusack          


Ray Liotta


Amanda Peet


John Hawkes


Alfred Molina


Clea DuVall


John C. McGinley


William Lee Scott


Rebecca De Mornay




James Mangold         


Cathy Konrad


Lisa Beach


Sarah Katzman


Phedon Papamichael

Director of Photography


Reviewed by: Hauntmistress 5/03/2003


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