Monday, October 15, 2012

Messages Deleted

A screenwriting professor (Matthew Lillard) begins receiving terrifying voicemails from strangers who are apparently about to be murdered. It turns out there is a killer on the loose, using his unproduced screenplay as a template for a murder spree.

Written by Larry Cohen, I suspect that due to the answering machine gimmick of Message Deleted, the film might be intended as the finale of his "phone trilogy," along with Phone Booth and Cellular. Really, though, this is more of a silly meta-commentary on thriller cliches, like an even more on-the-nose version of Scream. Or, as my brother called it, "stupid meta." It's a bunch of silly nonsense, where the killer is obsessed with making the murders seem like the plot of a movie, while Lillard tries to use his knowledge of screenwriting to outguess the killer.

It's goofy and disposable, but I still had a little bit of fun with it. By trying so hard to mess with audience expectations, it becomes weirdly predictable in the way it tries to subvert the cliches, but its enjoyable trying (and mostly succeeding) to outguess where the movie is going.

Rating: C+

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