Monday, May 2, 2011

Paint It Blood Red: "The Apostate" (2000)

Richard Grieco turns in the best performance of his checkered career in this underappreciated little thriller.

***Spoilers Ahead*** Grieco is Father Michael, who returns to his native Puerto Rico for his brother's funeral. His brother, a gay prostitute, was slashed to death by sicky artist Dennis Hopper, and the blood was splashed on the walls. I didn't ruin anything for you, Hopper is shown doing the killing. Another woman is killed by Hopper, and Grieco sees the crime scene, courtesy of his detective uncle. Grieco is also an artist and immediately recognizes that Hopper is not just leaving gory crime scenes, he is painting with the blood. Grieco goes undercover to root Hopper out. Grieco also meets the pretty Mary (irony), a nude artist and friend of the dead girl's roommate, who happens to be Grieco's former lover. Grieco goes through the San Juan underbelly, and of course, struggles with his faith, which was very tenuous at best. In the end, Hopper is caught, but there is another murder, and the ambiguous ending peaks the viewer's curiosity.

Gove directed his own script, and has a fantastic eye. The camera loves Grieco, who looks just plain cool in a priest's clothing. He has one great scene where he is talking about artistic technique while trying to hold down his lunch at a crime scene. He is really fantastic in this film, and I wish he could find better parts.

Hopper is okay in the psycho role that he is constantly playing. This could be the mad bomber from "Speed." One problem I had was with director Gove's obsession with wrought iron and barred windows and doors. Every character in the film, major and minor, go through doors or windows with bars or they peer into windows with bars, and eventually the whole cute idea gets overwrought (ha ha).

If you want films to compare this to, think of it as a cross between "True Confessions" and "Seven." Gove may be reaching putting a priest on the case, but Grieco more than makes up for the script's minor foibles. I definitely recommend this one. (* * * *) out of five stars.