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DVD Review: D.C. Sniper

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Shocking! Simply shocking! Ulli Lommel, the director of D.C. Sniper was not even mentioned in the promotional materials shipped with the disk. Why, we’re talking about the man who brought us such film classics as Zombie Nation, Dungeon Girl, Diary of a Cannibal, and I Want to Be a Vampire. Lommel has made a killing with low-budget, direct-to-video, serial-killer exploitation films. He’s covered the Green River, BTK, and Zodiac killers just to name a few. The term “film” is a misnomer, though, since D.C. Sniper is clearly a videocam masterpiece. Okay, “masterpiece” may not be the correct description, either.

D.C. Sniper actually redefines “bad.” It’s not bad in the sense of “gee, that’s so stupid” (Skeleton Key), or “that’s the worst movie I’ve ever seen” (Deadline), or even “so bad it’s hilarious” (Plan 9 from Outer Space). It’s more jaw-droppingly, mind-numbingly awful. Based on the infamous DC Snipers, John Muhammad and Lee Malvo, the movie switches between interviews with the principals, shootings, and a narration by one of the agents assigned to the case. This agent, by the way, has a serious problem of his own; his 18-year-old daughter ran away from home with her skank boyfriend who has gotten said daughter involved in Internet porn. Dad, of course, is so disgusted by this that he actually watches a video of her stripping. Well, c’mon, Lommel had to get some nudity in there somehow. D.C. Sniper got an R  rating for "Bloody Shootings and Brief Nudity.”

Apparently a typical outing for John and Lee involved driving somewhere, Lee getting in the trunk of the car with his rifle, Lee shooting someone, and then driving away. That’s father-son bonding for you, which gives this movie redeeming values. Muhammad was not really Malvo’s father, and that is addressed (he always wanted a son so he took one). The shooting scenes are brief; they find a target, the target is shot, there’s lots of blood spray. Repeatedly. Meanwhile, the FBI agents, who are posing as tourists from Wisconsin and Texas but really know their way around Washington, DC, go around aiming their binoculars and cameras at various people, say stupid things, and don’t seem like they’ve even driven past the FBI academy, no less graduated. At times, they aren’t even sure which end of the camera to look into, and we see endless views of nothing through the binoculars. Somehow, maybe because the budget was running low, they manage to catch the two murderers. Sadly, none of this is dramatic.

Ken Forsee, “cult horror icon Dawn of the Dead,” plays John Mohammad like he’s glad he’s got a job, even this job. In one of the early interview scenes, Mohammad explains why he turned out the way he did — Superman is a racist. You see, when he was a little boy, he and a bunch of other little boys went to some promotion where superheroes were in attendance, and the superheroes shook the white boys’ hands, but avoided him. This left an indelible mark on him. I can understand that. It would be like trick-or-treating with my brother and the sexist housewife gives my brother a full-size pack of M&M’s but I only get the fun-size. Anyway, this incident has left him so scarred he needs to bring down the government.

My husband watched D.C. Sniper with me, in the middle of the afternoon and fell asleep after 15 minutes. He had been looking forward to the scenes in Baton Rouge, since one of the shootings took place not far from where we lived and the killers were somehow connected to Louisiana, but he didn’t miss anything. The action never moved out of the DC area.

Please don’t think the movie was a total disaster. The last five seconds are laugh-out-loud funny, not because of the action, but because that’s where the budget must have run out because the film ends abruptly. Now, here is the absolute best part: the promotional materials state “The Inside Story of How Two Real-Life Serial Killers Terrorized Our Nation’s Capital…” but the ending credits inform us that all characters were fictional. Huh?

Before you run out to rent or buy this piece of whatever, which will be available March 16, please accept my apologies for anything I’ve said that might in any way induce you to do so (unless it’s the sleeping-through-it thing; maybe you have insomnia). Please also note that, while researching Ulli Lommel, we found him referred to as “the worst director living.” There were no special features on the review copy, however, the final product will include a “stills gallery.”

Bottom Line: Would I rent/buy this movie? Ha ha; you gotta be kidding. Or, as I like to say, NO!!!

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