2010 / Director. Svetozar Ristozar.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
In 1999 author Jason Moss released his true-crime book THE LAST VICTIM: THE TRUE-LIFE JOURNEY INTO THE MIND OF A SERIAL KILLER. It detailed his personal relationships with some of America’s most notorious killers such as Richard Ramirez, Charles Manson and Jeffery Dahmer. He was a criminology student in the early 90s and studied the psychology of serial killers as his thesis. The first person he made contact with was John Wayne Gacy and their relationship was adapted into this dramatic thriller film, DEAR MR GACY.
William Forsythe plays Gacy in the months leading up to his execution. He is in the full grip of insanity and responds to Moss’s initial request for communication. Moss lured Gacy with salacious photographs of himself and a fabricated story of being a white hustler. The two communicate via letters until Moss begins to lose control when Gacy contacts him directly. It becomes clear that this is a psychopath with contacts, who is a master manipulator. Moss gets in deep and finds himself caught in a state of paranoia and terror and becomes, what he later described to be, Gacy’s Last Victim.
The film feels like a missed opportunity. There is nothing wrong with the performances and William Forsythe is actually very good. He has obviously done his research and listened to Gacy’s recordings and he delivers a chilling performance, without question. Sadly the tone of the film feels more like a television movie than it does a theatrical one. Despite its lewd themes and crass dialogue there is a sense that the director is holding back where he could have pushed much further.
DEAR MR GACY is a low budget indy affair, which in itself is not an issue, however there has been no effort made to disguise its frayed edges. With only three major set pieces the film predominantly takes place in Moss’s bedroom and Gacy’s prison cell. The whole prison atmosphere is awful with Forsythe made to sit in a dank, lowly lit room. It is not a reasonable representation whatsoever and these scenes really hit the “true story” nature of the film hard. There is no doubt that the communications depicted did happen, because most were recorded by Moss, but it’s a hard sell when a good performer is pitted against a lousy set design.
This is a film that could have (should have) taken a leaf out of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS book. The concept of a notorious serial killer forming a bond with a civilian on such a personal level is begging to be told on screen. Sadly Moss’s story has been produced into a lacklustre movie that will languish in obscurity for the rest of time.