(2002, dir: Chris Fisher; cast: Rosalyn Sanchez, Bret Roberts, Joseph McKelheer)
Nightstalker doesn't follow the Richard Ramirez serial killer facts too closely. But that's not what this film is about. This is history told as a
horror film. Indeed, as a religious parable.
Ramirez's killings through his own eyes. He stalks and kills his
victims while an albino Satan with a blood-stained mouth flashes about
him, head shaking quickly. Ramirez himself flashes about the scene.
It's a series of killings seen through the eyes of an insane drug addict. It sets the mood of Evil. It works.
the theme, to the point of religious parable. Ramirez not only sees
Satan, he orders his victims: "Say you love Satan!" He tells Satan:
"I did it for you!" Naturally, his apartment abounds in upturned
pentagrams, written in blood.
nemesis is Rosalyn Sanchez, who plays an East L.A. cop -- who's also a
devout Catholic. She prays ferverently every night, the camera hovering
in extreme closeup about her quivering lips, her tightly clutched rosary,
focusing in and out at the aged crucifx she prays before.
is surrounded by encroaching evil. Her black police lieutanent boss
sexually harrasses her. His head shakes quickly (as does Satan's
head), thus linking him to Evil. Sanchez's Latino partner snorts
coke in the squad car, his head shaking quickly. Sanchez's white
partner turns vigilante, his head shaking quickly. The Evil is everywhere,
in all races.
men behave in a mostly decent (if roughshod) manner throughout the film. None of their indescretions are followed up plotwise. Rather, the
Evil just lurks there, surfacing on occassion, but always beneath the surface
of those Sanchez might trust.
lurks in women too. Sanchez is betrayed by a gal reporter, who uses
Sanchez as a source, then breaks confidence, exposing Sanchez as her source. Sanchez had given a police sketch of Ramirez to the reporter, hoping it
would save lives. Sanchez's motives were pure, but the reporter didn't
care about saving lives, only making a name for herself; exposing Sanchez
saved no one, but made the story juicier. The reporter also snorts
coke, her head shaking quickly.
has other problems. Her aging mother is senile, a burden on Sanchez,
who's turned down better job offers to stay in East L.A. and care for her
mother. These problems are additional crosses for Sanchez to bear
as she prays to Jesus.
is everywhere. The film is set in 1985, and TV sets throughout the
film carry newscasts of crises in the Mideast, the poison plant leakage
in India, US support of Saddam, and the Ramirez killings.
is not a "true crime" film. It's shot in the aesthetic style of a horror
film, and it's about a devoutly Catholic woman seeking divine help in her
fight against Evil. Sanchez is the moral core of this darkening universe
as Evil encroches on her from all directions.
see that many true crime fans were disappointed. I don't think horror
fans would be upset. The cinematography is beautiful. (And
yes, so is Sanchez.)
Review copyright by Thomas
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