Spawned by the smashing success of The Silence of the Lambs, genre of the serial killer film proved to be one of the most enduring trends in the last decade. Multitude of such projects, ranging from "high concept" Hollywood films down to low budget exploitation, offers wide range in quality. When the Bough Breaks is relatively little known 1993 film, who author tries, less than in the other examples, to hide being inspired by Jonathan Demme's work.
Movie begins with horrible discovery which indicates that the Texan city became target area for vicious serial killer who dismembers little children. Swaggert (played by Martin Sheen), chief of local police, reluctantly agrees to seek help from Dr. Audrey MacLeah (played by Ally Walker), state-paid forensic psychologist who should make profile of possible perpetrator. However, when MacLeah tries to engage in investigation, she is faced with animosity of male policemen, and Swaggert's lack of faith in her talents. Working alone, she finds clues that connect the crimes with institutionalised autistic child.
This film, written and directed by Michael Cohn, at first glance, gives impression of being really cheap knock-off of The Silence of the Lambs. That impression is, actually, more to Michael Cohn's credit - he looked at Demme's work very hard, and unlike many others, found out what had worked in The Silence of the Lambs and what had not. So, this film, although shorter and somewhat less spectacular, is full of dark atmosphere and elements which, although at times revolting, happen to be fascinating and leave strong impression. The main character, obviously inspired by Clarice Starling, looks original, though. Ally Walker gives really strong performance as psychological investigator troubled with her own personal, and never revealed, demons. Almost everyone is under the shadow of that performance, including creepy Ron Perlman and Martin Sheen (whose character simply disappears in the middle of film). The result is low budget, but effective, although anything but original film. Fans of Ally Walker would probably enjoy this film very much, since it could be seen as sort of prelude to her cult TV series The Profiler.
RATING: 6/10 (++)
(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.movies.reviews on May 9th 1999)
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