Letters from a Killer (1998) – Review

2 Stars

Letters from a Killer takes nearly the entire first act to stabilize itself, before settling down into a coherent, yet under-whelming story-line. Those first twenty minutes are so staggeringly inept that the basic premise is botched early on and puts the viewer in the awkward position of trying to guess what is happening to whom. This is particularly surprising because of the level of cast and crew involved with this misbegotten project. Obviously influenced by the box-office success of The Fugitive and Double Jeopardy, this straight-to-DVD B-movie is well produced, photographed and acted which all help in rescuing this derivative plot from the bottom barrel.

Race Darnell is on Death Row for a murder he continually denies committing. While serving his time and to make the days more bearable between appeals, Race began writing love-letters to four different woman on the outside. When one of the mischievous guards sends his letters to the wrong recipients, one of his lovers wants him dead. Midway through the story Race’s verdict is overturned and he is released from prison, only to find himself in stalked by a crazed killer, whose murders are aimed at framing the pardoned Darnell.

It took three credited screenwriters to concoct this unoriginal murder-mystery. The lensing was done by acclaimed cinematographer John A. Alonzo, but as nice as the images may be the story doesn’t support the glossy look Alonzo gifts the picture. Then there is Swayze in the central role, his innocent charm is suited for the role of falsely convicted death-row inmate. It’s not entirely his fault that he comes off badly here, the script and nearly non-existent direction leave Swayze out to dry on a few occasions. Notably an especially poorly written scene, in which Race is confronted by a group of disgruntled barflies who are looking for trouble. Letters from a Killer is so derivative its a wonder that anyone signed up for the project.

Director: David Carson
Stars: Patrick Swayze, Gia Carides, Elizabeth Ruscio,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *