D-Tox (2002)

D-Tox (2002)

Survival is a Killer

FBI Agent Jake Malloy has been tracking a serial cop killer for six months. To hit him where it hurts in return, the killer targets and kills Malloy’s wife. This sends him over the edge and he becomes an alcoholic, forcing one of Malloy’s colleagues to sign him up for a place at a remote detox clinic in a snow-covered part of Wyoming which specializes in rehabbing cops. He goes to the clinic but as soon as bodies of the staff and patients begin turning up, Malloy realises that the killer has followed him.

 

D-Tox is a wolf in sheep’s clothing if I ever saw one. Despite the cracking cast featuring Sylvester Stallone and supported by a whole host of great character actors in Charles Dutton, Robert Patrick, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Berenger and Robert Prosky, this is simply your basic teenage slasher dressed up around the sides with a bit of Se7en thrown in. I’m not complaining because the mix is certainly refreshing enough, I was just expecting something a little more, well, original!

D-Tox is hardly the sort of vehicle that Stallone can kick start his career with because I’m not sure what the target audience is. Older viewers will see through the film like I did and realise it’s just a bog standard slasher flick. Younger viewers will not be able to associate with anyone over twenty five as slasher films usually have a young teenage to fawn over. I’m stuck in the middle on this though. I love slasher flicks and I love the fact that there’s an older cast being put to the slaughter for a change. It’s just a pity that D-Tox is so ordinary.

The film opens the way you’d expect it to go on in the manner of Se7en, The Bone Collector and any one of those recent serial killer flicks with a slightly grim outlook. A couple of bodies are thrown into the mix in grisly fashion and the police are all over the place. We’ve got our grizzled detective in Stallone who is getting weary of the chase until it hits home and his wife (the grossly underused Dina Meyer) is killed. The film at least gives his character a much-needed reality shot as he actually grieves for his wife and hits the bottle, instead of the usual convention where the detective goes looking for revenge. Continuing from the promising start, the film shifts to the detox clinic.

This is a superbly shot building – dark, brooding and dimly lit to give the impression of a medieval prison. It’s the perfect location to unleash a killer. To add to this is the array of characters that have checked into the clinic. Particular mention should go to Robert Patrick, who turns his S.W.A.T. officer into such an asshole in such a short space of time and dialogue. Kris Kristofferson does his usual badass thing, even when he’s not supposed to playing a badass role! It’s his “take no bullshit” accent that does it. There’s a bunch of other great characters, all washed-up cops for one reason or another and a little time is given to a few of the main players to develop somewhat of a character. The stage is set for the film to really kick into gear once the killer turns up. However it is at this precise point that the film bombs out completely.

Jim Gillespie (director of I Know What You Did Last Summer) doesn’t hide away from the slasher clichés. There’s the copious amount of people working at the clinic who only get to say a few words before meeting their demise (the ‘non-characters’). Instead of a mask, the killer wears a parka and has the hood up to hide his face. Heck, they even throw in Tom Berenger as a dim-witted handyman to add a pointless red herring into the mix. There are carbon-copy shots of certain scenes from I Know What You Did Last Summer including the killer walking directly towards the camera from a distance in pursuit of a victim. All of the hard work in the build up is thrown away. The characters become lifeless replicas of the teenagers who run around in the dark being chased. All of their back story and characterization is thrown out of the window in the desperate struggle to stay alive.

To say these people are/were cops proves to be insulting at times when they split up in the dark with a killer on the prowl or continually fail to grasp the situation. Towards the end, it’s almost as if these people could be anyone trapped in the clinic, let alone a group of experienced cops. Instead of having to fight their demons, the script is just content to have them running around in the dark being stalked and killed. It’s a complete waste of talent and the hard work that went into the opening half. The cast is good enough to cover over a lot of the problems. For all of his critics, Stallone isn’t that bad in front of the camera though he obviously handles the physicality better than the dramatics. Patrick I’ve already mentioned and you know exactly the sort of quality supporting performances that you’ll get from Dutton and Kristofferson. You just wish everyone had a bit more to get their teeth into.

 

D-Tox starts off surprisingly well. It’s got a decent cast and no one fails to disappoint in the opening half. The location is great and there’s enough meat to fill the second half with surprises. But the slasher element ruins it as soon as it rears its head and the film just throws everything out of the window for routine cat-and-mouse stuff that Michael Myers would be proud of. Disappointing but nowhere near the dud it’s cracked up to be.

 

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