Identity wants to be a good bad movie. It's got the A-list stars slumming—well, the B-plus-list stars, anyway—the fresh twist on the genre formula, and the camera chops to back it all up.
The problem is premature climax. Just when the movie is building up a head of steam and rushing headlong toward an explosive finale, the script puts the conclusion where a major plot point should be. That means the last half hour or so has no suspense, no reason to care, no reason to watch really.
The setup: On the night before a mass murderer (Pruitt Taylor Vince) is to be executed, eleven strangers with far too much in common get caught in a rainstorm and have to spend the night in a run-down motel. One by one they're killed, and that's really all I can safely say about the plot. There's lots of homages to horror movies and whodunits both classic and current, from Psycho and Ten Little Indians to I Know What You Did Last Summer. The shocks and scares in the first two-thirds of the movie are well done indeed, and if this film had more staying power, it could rival The Sixth Sense for creepiness and mind-bending ability.
The cast mostly does great with what they're given. John Cusack (Ed) carries the movie as a limo driver with more secrets than even he realizes. Amanda Peet looks good as a hooker without a heart of gold, and Ray Liotta is THE MAN as Rhodes, a cop transporting another multiple murderer played by Jake Busey. Rebecca De Mornay as a washed-up actress is toe up, and I can't decide if that was just a wonderful job by the makeup department or if she really is aging badly. Clea DuVall, on the other hand, just stank up the joint as a newlywed whose marriage is already on the rocks. Most of the rest of the cast I didn't recognize, but they acquitted themselves quite well amid all the murderous craziness.
It's worth a $3.99 rental when it finally hits the stores.