What drives any thriller is the tension behind the actions of the antagonist. The viewer and the characters are usually unaware of what precisely will happen to them at this person’s hands, but they sit there, expectantly waiting for the worst to occur. What then can be created as tension in a film where the antagonist is already in jail, with no chance of escape whatsoever?
Dear Mr. Gacy is based on a true story, but manages to find its feet as a capable thriller movie, based on the last days of one of America’s most notorious psychopaths.
PLOT:A chronicle of the interaction between college student Jason Moss and the object of his obsession, serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
DIRECTOR: Svetozar Ristovski
CAST: William Forsythe and Jesse Moss
GENRE: Crime, Thriller, Drama
AGE RESTRICTION: 16 (Violence, Language)
John Wayne Gacy (played by William Forsythe) was convicted of the murders of 33 young men and boys, most of whom he buried in his home. His crimes shocked the world, and he became the object of many inquisitive minds examining the nature of evil in what seemed to be a normal person. After 14 years on Death Row, his execution date was set. However, in his last months, he was approached by a young college student, Jason Moss (played by Jesse Moss; no relation) ostensibly writing a report on serial killers, but who presented himself to Gacy as a friend, a young confused man seeking the attentions of this serial killer. Moss remained assured that Gacy’s psychological tricks would not influence him in any way, but as his life spiralled more out of control, this became less certain.
The primary focus of this movie is the interaction between these two people, and the way Gacy managed to affect Moss from a thousand miles way to such an extent. Moss in real life considered himself Gacy’s “final victim” because of what the effect was of delving so deeply into the mind of such a psychotic killer. Gacy is here is played masterfully by Forsythe, presenting a deeply unnerving and unsettling man, who is able to portray both sides of Gacy: the smooth persuading voice, and his crazed killer identity, and the way he is able to switch between them almost instantly presents Gacy very much as he was, albeit making it very disturbing to watch at times. Jess Moss handles his part capably, but doesn’t bring much special to the table, as the primary focus is not especially on him, but rather Gacy’s omnipresent force in his life.
The tone is thus very well set, and the unease with which Moss carries out Gacy’s ideas and how his own life becomes more and more unravelled do build up that all-important tension necessary for a film. A few scenes at the end of Gacy and Moss in real life also serve to drive home the film in a particular way, after the climax has been reached.
However, there is not much in this film for anyone other than someone interested in the life of John Wayne Gacy. There are better standard thrillers, and anyone interested in a film about a serial killer could rather watch The Silence of the Lambs. As such, rent it if you are drawn to the concept, but rather give it a miss on buying it.