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Dear Mr. Gacy - Anchor Bay Entertainment Print E-mail
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Written by Ray Casta   
Friday, 06 May 2011
Severed Cinema DVD Reviews

DVD Artwork from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

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Directed by: Svetozar Ristovski
Written by: Kellie Madison (screenplay), Clark Peterson (story); based on the book by Jason Moss & Jeffrey Kottler
Produced by: Tom Berry, Clark Peterson & Gordon Yang
Cinematography by: Larry Lynn
Music by: Terry Frewer
Cast: William Forsythe, Jesse Moss, Emma Lahana, Cole Heppell, Belinda Metz, Michael Ryan & Eric Keenleyside
Year: 2010
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1 h 43 min

Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Official Website: Dear Mr. Gacy

While Jason Moss studied at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1994, he chose a controversial topic for his criminology term paper: John Wayne Gacy, who was on Death Row in Illinois, awaiting execution.  For his honors thesis, he established a frighteningly close relationship with Gacy.  Met with great scrutiny, this audacious and daring idea will eventually change Jason's life forever.  Svetozar Ristovski's "Dear Mr. Gacy" is based on the book Jason Moss wrote on his experiences and eventual encounter with Gacy which he titled "The Last Victim," a reference to him considering himself Gacy's last victim.  Ultimately flawed and disappointing, "The Last Victim" is at least fascinating in the way it tells the true account of a teenager who went against the grain to look into the eyes of a real-life monster.

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Those unfamiliar with "The Last Victim" and the true story of Jason Moss will find the movie far-fetched and unbelievable.  Which may come to a surprise to those viewers, "Dear Mr. Gacy" thankfully does not stray far from Jason Moss' memoirs.  It opens with documentary footage of John Wayne Gacy's arrest and a news report of his crimes.  A reporter reveals how Gacy raped and murdered 33 males, and buried most of them in the crawlspace of his home.  It is revealed the TV report is being watched by Jason Moss (Jesse Moss) in his living room.  His mother walks in the room and comments on her son's aspirations to pursue a career in law enforcement, mentioning how unbelievably incompetent they are.  In his criminology class, Jason declares to his teacher his interest in doing a paper on Gacy.

The screenplay by Kellie Madison adopts the tricky narrative of telling the Jason Moss story.  What makes the narrative fairly delicate is the way it aspires to adapt the letters and correspondence between Jason and Gacy to the screen.  Therefore, "Dear Mr. Gacy" includes montages and voice overs of their exchanges.  Although the narrative isn't a total failure, it trickles down a slippery slope.  The story records the transformation of Jason to an inquisitive student to a would-be manipulator.  Jason basically puts himself in the role of the victim with ulterior motives to outwit a master schemer in Gacy.  These events transpired in real life.  There is a level of credibility and some empathetic qualities in Je Moss, but it is tough to completely fathom the on-screen transition.  One begins to wonder how the character believes he can overcome a known, cunning serial killer so suddenly.

Shockingly, the real Jason Moss tragically took his own life on June 6, 2006 in his Nevada home.  At the time of his suicide, Jason Moss was a practicing criminal defense attorney and he had accepted internships with the US Secret Service and the ATF after graduation.  Surely enough, no one can truly compose who Jason Moss was.  He remains an enigma, but "Dear Mr. Gacy" entirely sidesteps the very possibility something was wrong with him to begin with.  The movie eschews his correspondence with other notorious serial killers and inmates, like Richard Ramirez and Charlie Manson.  He's a very fascinating person and it leads to many questions.  Was he a cocky or disturbed student who got in way over his head?  Or was he a victim of John Wayne Gacy?  Did his "obsession" eventually lead to his suicide?

The distinct lack of depth into the summary of events is displeasing, and by undercutting the fatal implications of Jason Moss, its emotional and psychological landscape is subjacent.  One sequence which will likely meet the most deliberation is the contingent prison visit, between Jason and Gacy.  The event is faithful to what Jason writes in his book, but the security is surprisingly lacking for a maximum security prison.  With that aside, the sequence stands as the most menacingly intense segment of the film.  Principal performances are the strength here, as Jesse Moss (no relation to Jason Moss he portrays) and William Forsythe brilliantly play off each other.  It's a game of cat of mouse as we witness the hunter become the hunted.  Jesse Moss is skilful at portraying a person who does not want to admit he is treading some dangerous waters.  Forsythe is the predominate of the two and rightfully so.  Domineering every scene he's in, Forsythe joins Brian Dennehy -- who played Gacy in the terrific TV movie, "To Catch a Killer" -- as an accomplished actor who flawlessly conveys the ghastly nature and cunning of such a horrific, psychopathic serial killer.

Featured on the Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD, a featurette entitled "The Gacy Files: Portrait of a Serial Killer" (which runs about 22-minutes in length) is a pretty fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the killer John Wayne Gacy.  It goes into the opinions of law enforcement involved in the case, and his arrest.  William Forsythe is involved with the featurette, playing interviewer to certain subjects who knew Gacy.  This is a worthwhile extra, but one would hope there was a featurette regarding Jason Moss.  Jeffrey Kottler, the co-author of "The Last Victim," is interviewed at the end of the featurette and he wisely explains the identification of victim to killer in the eyes of the audience, while viewing a horror movie.  While amusing, it leaves a lot to be desired -- especially considering Kottler was the co-author of the source material and has worked with Jason Moss.  Although the effort by Macedonian filmmaker Svetozar Ristovski misses its mark of greatness, "Dear Mr. Gacy" is a well acted and thoroughly compelling study of obsession.

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

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Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

Screenshot image from Dear Mr. Gacy on Severed Cinema

 RATING:
 VIDEO: 1 
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 AUDIO: 1 
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 DVD: 1 
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 MOVIE: 1 
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 DVD SPECS:
 Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic
 Region: NTSC R1
 Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0


 SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL:
 - The Gacy Files: Portrait of a Serial Killer

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Last Updated ( Friday, 06 May 2011 )
 
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