Looking Glass

Looking Glass is one of those thrillers in which, once the pieces of the central puzzle have been put in the correct place, there isn't much to do but to wait for the characters to catch up. The problem with Jerry Rapp's screenplay, though, is the lack of closure for many of these story threads. This is a premise ripe for the treatment it has received, which is the look and feel of a so-called "trashy thriller." Part of the mystery involves the activities of a dominatrix, so there is an element of kink to the proceedings that can only be described as lurid, while the plot hinges upon the curious activities and behavior of the local townsfolk.

Our protagonist is Ray (Nicolas Cage), who has arrived in this blip on a map, which seems to have one street and a smattering of residences mixed in with an auto shop, a police station, presumably a gas pump or two, a bar, and the motel in which a great majority of our movie takes place. The Motorway Motel is a shabby but comfortable stop on a road to much better cities, and something strange is always going on in room number 10. A truck driver (played by Ernie Lively) leads a constant stream of girls into the room and slips Ray extra cash to keep it on the QT, a quiet woman's (played by Jacque Gray) company always seems to disappear, and Ray discovers a crawlspace leading to a two-way mirror providing a view into number 10.

The plot constantly teases us with details that never really come together: Ray has inherited the motel from Ben (Bill Bolender), the previous owner, through a random connection on a website listing. He and his wife Maggie (Robin Tunney) have been looking to escape their own drudgery and the tragic death of their daughter, which occurred because of their inattentive carelessness. Ben's disappearance is thorough, in that he has disconnected and/or changed his personal number and cut off nearly all contact with anyone who knows him. The local Sheriff (played by Marc Blucas) finds this so strange that his queries to Ray about Ben's vanishing act are barely veiled accusations of Ray himself being involved. The gruesome death of a local girl in the motel's pool haunts the place's recent history.

There is a solid start to this mystery as the pieces are brought out of the proverbial box and placed in front of us. The supporting performances from Lively and Blucas are effective in the creep-out sense, and though Cage seems to be sleepwalking through his role (something that rarely seems to happen, whatever the actor's recent output), Tunney is quite good as a grieving mother with her share of demons. Where the whole thing falls apart for Rapp and director Tim Hunter, though, is in the follow-through. After the atmosphere of mystery and unease, Looking Glass climaxes with a by-the-numbers kidnapping and subsequent bloody fistfight to the death. In other words, it settles for the familiar.

Film Information

Nicolas Cage (Ray), Robin Tunney (Maggie), Marc Blucas (Howard), Ernie Lively (Tommy), Kassia Conway (Strawberry Blonde), Bill Bolender (Ben), Jacque Gray (Jessica), Barry Jay Minoff (Gas Station Owner).

Directed by Tim Hunter and written by Jerry Rapp.

Rated R (sexual content, violence, language).

103 minutes.

Released in select cities on February 16, 2018.

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