Thursday, March 07, 2013

"Cyrus": tell a terrifying crime story through "reality journalism"

Mark Vadik’s film “Cyrus: The Mind of a Serial Killer”  (2010) could be viewed as a curious exercise in layered storytelling through journalism.
A young woman Maria (Danielle Sabchez) and her young camera man interview an old codger Emmet (Lance Henriksen) in an old Midwestern house, about a serial killer Cyrus (Brian Kraus) who has disappeared after a spree in rural Michigan (near Niles).

Emmet tells a terrifying story, of a young man who brought his bride to a mystery farm, and went crazy when she wasn’t satisfied with her new lifestyle.  Pretty soon, Cyrus was into all kinds of unspeakable activities, the results of which he sold to diners in a nearby restaurant. 

As the film  progresses, it seems like a combination of “Motel Hell” and “Silence of the Lambs”.  The former of these two horror films was actually funny. Not this one.  Actually, it takes on elements of “Saw” and “Hostel”.  But in time, Maria has reason to wonder if there were not just one monster but two.  How could this old guy no so much and collect so many mementos?  In the end, the storytelling device seems a little artificial.

There is some interesting commentary, however, on what makes these criminals tick, and there is a little speech about some of them (including Dahmer, Gacy, Bundy and Manson) at the end. I think what is really needed is a documentary about rampages (Holmes, Lanza, etc).  

The film could pose questions about journalists shield laws and privileges, and when journalists have a legal and moral obligation to contact law enforcement.  For example, NBC News and Dateline have often worked with law enforcement to set up stings.  

It's also possible to get into the area of the risks journalists must take.  But that sort of seriousness about policy discussion is not the point of the film.  
The official site is here (for Anchor Bay).

Things roll in this movie.  It’s rather 80s-like. 

Pictures: south central Michigan (mine, from Aug. 2012).  

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