Sanctimony (2000)
By: Craig Villinger on September 9, 2002  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Magna Pacific (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 4:3. English DD 2.0 84 minutes
The Movie
Director: Uwe Boll
Starring: Casper Van Dien, Michael Pare, Eric Roberts, Jennifer Rubin, Catherine Oxenberg, Michael Rasmussen, Tanja Reichert, David Milbern
Screenplay: Uwe Boll
Music: Uwe Spies
Tagline: A serial killer is in your neighborhood
Country: USA
Seattle is in the grip of "Monkey Maker" fever! He is in all of the newspapers, and on every TV show. So who is he? A superhero? A children's television host? The latest "Grunge rock" star to emerge from the city? No, unfortunately for the residents of Seattle, the "Monkey Maker" is a brutal serial killer responsible for the deaths fifteen people to date. The first six victims had their eyeballs plucked out, the next six had their ears removed, and the last three were found minus their tongues. Ghastly stuff! With absolutely no clues to work with, the cops are under pressure from not only the public, but also from the FBI, who are threatening to move in and take overthe case if it isn't solved in double quick time, which naturally doesn't sit too well with lead Detectives Renart (Michael Pare) and Smith (Jennifer Rubin). Soon enough their investigation leads them to a yuppie stock trader by the name of Tom Gerrick (Casper Van Dien). Gerrick is young, handsome, and filthy rich, yet seems to be incredibly bored with his existence. By day he sits at his desk making deals worth millions of dollars - by night he is visiting exotic nightclubs where snuff movies are filmed in the basement for those who can afford to watch the proceedings. In fact, with his workaholic attitude and love of fancy restaurants, one could almost say he bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain Patrick Bateman. It is perhaps because of this Bateman resemblance that he immediately becomes the number one suspect in the eyes of Renart and Smith and is promptly hauled "downtown" for further questioning, only to be released after some none too subtle pressure from his high priced lawyer. Not content to just sit back and watch the body count climb further, the detectives take matters into their own hands with Smith using her feminine charms to get close to Gerrick in order to find out what really makes him tick. Unfortunately for all concerned however, Gerrick is close to losing the plot completely and is planning to go to some extreme lengths to alleviate his boredom. Anyone in the vicinity better watch their arses!

On the surface Sanctimony appears to be a blatant American Psycho rip-off, although thankfully the final product manages to add enough subtle touches to separate itself from the novel by Easton Ellis and its subsequent film adaption. Director Uwe Boll has a great visual style, giving the dark Seattle streets a menacing look, while the cinematography of Mathias Neumann is quite impressive for what is obviously a low budget feature. The musical score from Uwe Spies was also quite impressive, adding some haunting touches to the slick visuals.

Fans of straight-to-video fodder will be more than familiar with some of the films cast, which boasts the likes of B-grade tough guys Michael Pare and Eric Roberts, as well as Jennifer Rubin and Catherine Oxenberg. Performances all round are as wooden as you can get, with Pare looking as though he has learned very little in his twenty odd years of performing in front of the cameras, while Rubin actually appeared to be reading her lines directly from a cue card on more than one occasion . Casper Van Dien is well cast as Tom Gerrick, with his own wooden acting style seemingly suited to the emotionless character he portrays. Are wooden acting performances a bad thing? Of course not. In fact, the acting helped add a much needed touch of cheese to the otherwise serious proceedings. Extra cheese always helps.

The plot itself is hardly what you would call engrossing, and the film seems to plod along at a fairly predictable rate for most of its running time with some of the more interesting sub-plots in the script (particularly the underground snuff film ring) being overlooked completely. Director/screenwriter Boll manages to cram in just about every cop movie cliché imaginable, from the Detective whose marriage is on the rocks as a result of his work commitments to the coroner who cracks morbid jokes about the mutilated murder victims he has to deal with, however things definitely pick up in the final fifteen minutes with Van Dien's character showing us his true colours by committing murder live on national television and then going on a gun crazy killing spree which featured enough "two fisted" gunplay and slow motion deaths to make me think I was watching a John Woo film.

Ultimately, Sanctimony would work best when treated as a disposable slice of B-Grade entertainment. While it lacks the solid performances and excellent scripting of other Hollywood serial killer thrillers like The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en, there are more than a few interesting touches to the film, and fans of the sub-genre might just find enough on offer here to keep them entertained for the full eighty four minutes. If nothing else, the Australian DVD release from Magna Pacific is dirt cheap and should at least make for some low cost padding to your collection. Besides, the sight of "Tough Guy" Michael Pare scooting around in a ridiculous looking Volkswagen Turbo is good for a laugh. See it for yourself and tell me I'm lying.
Sanctimony is presented in a full frame 1.33:1 aspect ratio. From what I can gather, the film was originally shot at 1.85:1, however in fairness we appear to have been given a relatively painless Pan & Scan job here. The image looks quite good, with steady, natural colours and no noticeable artefacts that are worth mentioning apart from occasional film grain. This is certainly not a reference quality transfer, but I had no real complaints, although a widescreen presentation would have been preferred.
The only audio option here is a standard Dolby Digital 2.0 track, which is serviceable without being particularly outstanding. Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand and there were no audio sync problems noticed.
Extra Features
Absolutely nothing here I'm afraid, which also appears to be the case with the US DVD. The UK DVD features a trailer, a cast & crew list, filmographies, and production notes, although it is worth noting that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) removed approximately one minute of sexual violence from the movie before it was released in the UK.
The Verdict
Maybe it was the low price tag attached to the disc, or perhaps it was the three cans of Victoria Bitter that I consumed throughout the films duration, but for some reason I enjoyed Sanctimony more than many other people would have. The disc itself is certainly nothing to rave about, but since it carries a suggested retail price tag of just AU$9.99 (less at most online retailers) it isn't a major gamble. If you ask me, I say it's worth the risk. You might just enjoy it yourself.
Movie Score
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