Based on the true unsolved murders that have plagued New York for over 20 years. A serial killer is at large, luring prostitutes from the Internet and leaving a trail of bodies along the Gilgo Beach area of Long Island. A virtuous college student turns to the escort business in desperation, but she unknowingly places herself directly in the path of one of America's most vicious serial killers.
The film, THE LONG ISLAND SERIAL KILLER, uses the real life case involving the discovery of the remains of 10 victims, in and around the vicinity of Long Island New York's Gilgo Beach. Suspected of 10 to 17 murders, dating back to 1996, the killer responsible is believed to still be at large today.
The film takes on several points of view, all of which relate to one another, and all intercepted by the actions of a Serial Killer. The main plot of the story follows one Tina Everett, a young woman who works as a waitress at a local restaurant. When Tina's mother is diagnosed with Cancer, and is in need of expense chemotherapy, the pressure is on for her, especially, after she quits her day job. Now, without a job, Tina is forced to join the world's oldest profession - prostitution. After some heavy thought, she becomes an escort, calling herself, "Crystal". From her very first "John", Tina comes into contact with some bizarre characters. However, nothing could prepare Tina for the person that she would eventually meet. After taking on a new paying customer via Craigslist, Tina, eventually crosses paths with a vicious serial killer, whom has been targeting the women of her new chosen profession.
The case of the real life "Long Island Serial Killer". come to light, when in December of 2010, when the remains of 4 bodies were found along Gilgo Beach on Long Island, and then in March and April the next year, when 6 more sets of remains were found. Initially, authorities assumed that it was the work of two separate killers, but eventually came to conclusion that it was indeed the work of one person. Examination of the remains, revealed that at least one of the murders, dated back to 1996.
THE LONG ISLAND SERIAL KILLER, a film, which was both written and directed by Joseph DiPietro, essentially takes on the idea of the case of these unsolved murders, and adds in original story elements, to put its own fictitious spin on things. Upon its release from WILD EYE RELEASING, I have seen that it has been met with a mixed reaction. But the reaction that stuck out the most with me, was of course when someone accused this film of capitalizing on real life tragedy. While in some cases, I agree on stances such as this one, especially in this case, seeing as these murders have not been solved, and the killer is still "at large". But I agree also, that there is nothing we can do. Someone, somewhere, was eventually going to make a film based on this case, just as they have with any other. It's just how things in our world works. So, with that, as a film reviewer, I wondered one thing going in : would THE LONG ISLAND SERIAL KILLER by a worthwhile interpretation of these true crime events?
I guess I should start by saying, while I respect the film's ambitions here to bring to light the case to the masses, while at the same time create a suspenseful story out of it, for most part, this film is a really uneven affair. While most of THE LONG ISLAND SERIAL KILLER's setup, is of course centered around known information about the unsolved case, a good part of the film's plot is actually made up of a previous script written by the Director, a few years prior, which has been essentially recycled here. Although, I have not seen it, back in 2008, DiPietro, wrote an Adult film called, THE TRANSGRESSIONS OF TINA. That film basically had the same plot elements. which make up a good part of the "meat" of this film. In THE TRANSGRESSIONS OF TINA, a girl, also named Tina(of course), goes missing after a college project sends her delving into the sex trade for research. Of course in THE LONG ISLAND SERIAL KILLER, it's tweaked a little, when Tina must resort to selling sex, when she learns that her ailing mother needs to pay for expensive Chemo. While that is what lands her into the profession, we learn, when her boyfriend, Rick, (whom is having an affair with her best friend(also like in THE TRANSGRESSIONS OF TINA)) inquires about Tina's whereabouts, that she had taken on a College assignment, in which the subject was the the sex trade. Which we assume, must have initially sparked her interest in taking up the job. The film does an ok job of making the overall story work within the context of having a killer, who is actively killing prostitutes. But overall, it's pretty uneven, as it feels like it is a film that is merely made up of a bunch of known case tidbits, which have been strung together, around an already existing, thinly developed plot. Although everything is intended to gel into one, the film never really feels all that cohesive. Another thing, was how the film chooses to handle the killer. Seeing as the killer has never been identified, and no one really knows what they look like, the possibilities, were both endless, and challenging. Since no one has seen them, and there isn't even a composite scetch, or anything, the film makers essentially had free range to do what they wanted. But the real challenge would making the killer believable. 2007's ZODIAC, directed by David Fincher, which happens to be one of my favorite films, was faced with similar limitations and challenges. Like this film, ZODIAC is of course, centered around an elusive killer, who, to this day, has never essentially been caught. However, unlike THE LONG ISLAND SERIAL KILLER, ZODIAC, I feel, made all the right choices when it came to approaching its killer. ZODIAC, instead of giving its killer any sense of real identity, mostly concealed the identity, with things such as shadows, and creative angles. The only time we really "saw" him was when viewing Police sketches, and when he was in his disguise(a disguise, which also came about from a witness sketch as well. But while we got these things, in the end, we never truly have any idea of who they were, thus leaving the mysterious air surrounding the case, successfully intact. Here, THE LONG ISLAND SERIAL KILLER, choses to kill the mystery, by almost immediately giving its killer face. From the beginning we see that this killer is just some average asshole, who is doing this for kicks. There is so much that could have been done here, but unfortunately they blew it, by making the killer the most uninteresting, most un- mysterious person imaginable. No efforts, at any time, were made to make this man intimidating whatsoever. And speaking of uninteresting, also pretty boring were the film's other characters as well. We never really connect with any of them, not even the film's main victim, "Tina". who in the end, we are supposed to care about. But unfortunately, we do not.
Indie film or not. Low budget film or not. With a subject as interesting as this one, I at least expected this film to be a little bit more interesting in itself. But in all honesty, it just wasn't that interesting, and as such, most of my rating points come from the technical side of things. For a low budget film, it is put together well, technically. It looks and sounds great, with a nice score, and is nicely edited(coincidentally, by my good friend, David Campfield). But with that said, it is everywhere else that the film lacks. The story has no real build, the characters, dull and boring, and sometimes overacting. And there is no real suspense. It is simply, a film that had the possibility to be great, but isn't.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
I'll admit, going into this film, I knew nothing about the titular killer. But, it was upon reading about the case, that I became instantly interested, especially in terms of what could be done in film, when it comes to the subject. There is a lot that could have been done here. Granted, it could have been worse. It could have been a film directed by Ulli Lommel(oh, the Horror!). But at the same time, it could have been far more interesting. I was just bored with THE LONG ISLAND SERIAL KILLER, overall, and in the end, felt that it accomplished very little. While I won't say skip this film, I will say that there is far better out there.