Dean Koontz's Mr. Murder (1998) (part 9 of 11)
Back in Lancaster, there’s a “comical” dispute as detectives Lowbeck and Del Rio interview the two women from the bookstore and the bank teller at the same time. (Is it really common practice for the police to interview multiple witnesses together? Even when they’re telling conflicting stories?) The old lady insists he left on a motorcycle, while the teller insists he left in an SUV, making a point to guess that it was an “Explorer or something”. The two witnesses are also in disagreement about whether or not he had his family with him.
Then the teller produces Marty’s withdrawal slip [?] as proof that it was him. I mean, it’s not like the police would confiscate this as evidence or anything. The old lady, however, is still conveniently clutching the book Alfie signed and holds it up. Lowbeck compares the signatures and finds that they don’t match, and what’s more, Alfie’s signature looks to have been written by a seven year old learning how to write in cursive for the first time. “The Xerox Mr. Stillwater,” Lowbeck says, slowly starting to develop a hunch that Marty’s telling the truth.
We cut back to Alfie, who now has blood stains all over his shirt, which I take as more evidence that he’s killed Marty’s parents. (Because, in a horror film, you certainly want to be subtle about who’s been murdered.) Alfie is looking at a videotape of Marty and his family having a picnic. On the video, Marty does his signature Fonzie move and Alfie attempts to imitate it. We get more painful family bonding as Marty and his family sing together. The song they sing, oddly enough, is the country standard “King of the Road” by Roger Miller, which isn’t even remotely appropriate for this movie, so I can only assume it was picked because the rights to use it were very, very easy to get.
Next we see Alfie’s finger tracing down a relief map [?] and then we cut to him heading up to the cabin on his motorcycle. As he drives out of the frame, a black car carrying Drew, Jr. and Carl appears headed the other way. Drew says Marty will most likely head for the cabin first, since it’s isolated. He’s also eating an apple with a knife as he talks, because this is, well, you know, evil.
Meanwhile, Marty’s family is in their SUV, and white steam is pouring out from under the hood. “We’re not stopping,” Marty says, even though the temperature gauge is way past the “H”. Paige insists they stop at a nearby gas station, and says he can “hide in the men’s room” while she puts water in the radiator.
As Alfie gets closer, he gets psychic visions of Marty in the men’s room at the gas station. Thankfully, he doesn’t also get a psychic vision of Marty taking a leak. Marty, feeling the link, goes into a stall, hops up on the toilet and peers through a crack in the wall to the ladies’ room [!]. How did he even know the crack was there in the first place? This appears to be his scheme to make it look like he’s in the ladies’ room, because now he’s staring at a perfume dispenser.
Alfie pulls into the gas station and sees the perfume dispenser in his Psych-O-Vision (although, from a much different angle than how Marty saw it) and walks off. Drew and Carl drive up (despite the fact they were driving in the opposite direction in the previous shot), and spot Alfie’s motorcycle.
Alfie takes out his gun and charges into the ladies’ room, which is conveniently empty. Marty hops down from the toilet and runs off. Before he can get very far, he runs into Drew, who pulls out his gun (in full view of passing traffic, mind you) and says, “Be at peace, Alfie.” Marty somehow sees a picture of Alfie in his mind saying, “I am at peace, father”, and repeats the phrase. So, it looks like that whole psychic link thing suddenly applies to memories, too. Convenient, eh? Anyway, Drew is convinced it’s Alfie, and he brings Marty back to his car and they all take off.
Alfie, having taken a good solid minute to realize that all two of the stalls in the ladies’ room are empty, walks out and runs into one of Marty’s daughters. She wants to leave right away because “This place gives me the creeps!” (A gas station?) Alfie agrees and walks her back to the SUV.
In Drew’s car, Marty is trying to bluff his way through pretending to be Alfie. When Drew asks how he found Stillwater, Marty replies that “He was in my head.” Drew is ecstatic that their experimentation with paranormal abilities worked better than they had expected. Drew tells Carl that the plan is to get Alfie “back online”, whatever the heck that means, and to kill Marty. Drew asks Marty (as Alfie) if Marty is nearby, and Marty replies he isn’t. A second later, however, they see Marty’s family and Alfie pulling off in Marty’s SUV. Drew, irate, turns around and says, “Who taught you to lie, Alfie?” And Marty cries out, “YOU, ALRIGHT? I LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU!” (Ah, I can never get enough of that line.)
Back at the Police station, Lowbeck, Del Rio, and Agent Reiling are listening to a scientist (he’s wearing a white lab coat, after all) explain that even though the blood from Marty’s house is genetically similar to Marty’s, there are some differences. He informs them that this blood “coagulates at over ten times the normal rate” and there’s “some evidence for the capacity for… self-regeneration!” Whatever that evidence is, it’s wisely left to our imaginations. Lowbeck suddenly feels regret about not believing Marty sooner, and he orders a trace on Marty’s credit cards and cell phone. Um, isn’t this something they probably should have done already? Agent Reiling, however, who is still secretly working for the Really Important People, says they should get a second opinion before changing plans and Lowbeck agrees to send a blood sample to “Washington”.
Back in Drew’s car, Drew is logging into his boffo Palm Pilot type device, and Marty leans forward to sneak a peek at his password. This handheld, by the way, helpfully displays your password as you type it, along with the exact number of letters that are in it. Boy, that sure sounds like a handy, secure feature. Marty sees Drew type the first letter, which is “F”, but loses the rest as Drew turns away.
In Marty’s SUV, Alfie is pretending to be Marty. “I’m hungry!” he declares yet again, opening a bag of potato chips. He then proceeds to grab about twenty chips and stuff them all into his mouth at once. Marty’s daughter gives him a suspicious look, and in order to throw them off the trail, Alfie begins singing “King of the Road” [!]. They all join in, and Alfie, having successfully deflected suspicion, stuffs some more chips in his face.
Drew’s car is now right behind Marty’s SUV. Marty (as Alfie) pleads with Drew not to hurt Marty’s family. Drew and Carl briefly act like Alfie is a robot instead of a clone, with Carl saying things like “there must be a flaw in the design”, and Drew saying “when this is all over, I’ll give you a ‘forget’ command and you’ll never hurt again, okay?” Never hurt again? I could sure use one of these “forget” commands myself right about now.
Marty then screams and goes for the steering wheel. In nice, loving, slow motion, the car goes careening off the road and slams into a tree. You can’t get enough cars slamming into trees in a movie like this. When the dust has settled, Carl is unconscious and Marty’s got his gun. He tells Drew to get out, and we see Drew accidentally drop his ultra-top-secret Palm Pilot type thing as he complies. Marty demands to know Drew’s full name. When he learns his last name is Oslett, Marty asks, “Like ‘Oslett’, the chemicals and oil?” Not to be picky, but isn’t oil a chemical?
Marty, still pretending to be Alfie, asks why he has to kill people. Drew replies by giving the following inspirational speech on the topic of world peace (Move over, Albert Schweitzer!):
|Marty: Why do I have to kill people?
Drew, Jr.: For a better world. Alfie, if you kill me, it’ll never happen. This is for a future better than anyone could have ever dreamt of!
Marty: What future?
Drew: The world doesn’t have to be the way it is. There doesn’t have to be so much war and suffering. Think about Hitler. Fifteen million deaths that he caused. If someone had had the vision, if somebody had had the guts to assassinate him at the ’36 Olympics, none of those deaths would have ever occurred. But nobody did. We, you and I, we can create a real peace in our time. One country, one continent at a time. But not if it ends here. Don’t you see? You’re the greatest hero the world has ever known. You’ve already stopped three wars before they could start. The two heads of state that you’re gonna assassinate in Miami? Their corruption has caused a famine that could kill a half a million people by the turn of the century. It’s not gonna happen, because of you. You’re gonna stop that, and that’s wonderful. But don’t throw this away. Alfie, please.
Apparently as unimpressed with this soliloquy as we are, Marty pistol-whips him in the chest [?], which causes him to fall to his knees and gasp for air. Marty picks up the Palm Pilot and stuffs it down the front of his pants. He then takes off in Drew’s car, indicating to me that ramming head first into a tree isn’t as bad for a car as one might think.
Back at the police station, Del Rio tells Lowbeck that Marty made a cell phone call ten miles from his parents’ cabin (No, we never actually saw Marty make this call). Lowbeck responds, “How fast can you get us a plane?” Um, wouldn’t a helicopter be slightly more effective for getting to a cabin in the woods? Agent Reiling runs in and switches on the TV set, where a reporter is telling us that Marty’s parents were found dead and that neighbors confirm they saw Marty going inside.
Meanwhile, Alfie and Marty’s family are having dinner together. Marty’s parents are obviously not there, having gone and gotten themselves murdered and everything, so apparently Alfie and Marty’s family just let themselves in. Alfie wants them to say grace, and when they link hands one of Marty’s daughters notices that Alfie is not wearing a wedding ring and thus is not her father. She drops subtle clues to the other two, like, “Do you think there’s gonna be a gold ring around the moon tonight?” Then she proceeds to say gold ring about four or five more times, and no one gets it. Finally she says a gold ring reminds her of something, “but I can’t quite put my finger on it,” and taps her ring finger against her forehead. Paige, seemingly just a few IQ points up on Alfie, finally deduces what she’s getting at. Paige decides to test Alfie and brings up a non-existent Aunt Drucilla. We know she doesn’t exist because the younger daughter immediately yells, “We don’t have an Aunt Drucilla!” (In typical Alfie fashion, he’s completely oblivious to all of this.)
Paige asks Alfie again how Aunt Drucilla is related to them. Alfie gives them his usual blank look, then smiles and tells them to finish their meals. They continue eating, but now they know what’s going on. Paige tells the girls to go to the pantry to get some gravy. Alfie stops them, saying, “The chicken tastes just fine to me!” The girls are stonewalled by this air-tight logic, and have no other recourse but to sit back down and continue eating.
We cut to later on that night, and Paige and Alfie are together in their bedroom. Alfie is noticeably, shall we say, excited about this event. Paige is playing along, and implying that he’s in for some good, good lovin’. But first, she says, she wants to go out and pour him a drink.
When she comes out of the bedroom, the girls are sneaking out of the cabin. Paige quickly falls in line behind them, but their plans come to an abrupt halt when they find that Alfie has locked the cabin door with a padlock from the outside [!!]. How in the holy hell did he do that? Paige tells the older daughter to block the door behind them with a chair. Then she opens a window and starts lifting the girls out. Alfie, sitting on a rocking chair [?] back in the bedroom, starts calling out to Paige.
Paige picks up a conveniently placed shotgun and a big box of shells, then starts to climb out the window. At that exact moment, Alfie appears at the door that’s been blocked with a chair. He forces the door slightly ajar, sticks his face through, and yells for Paige. Finally, he gets the door all the way open and starts after them. Paige finds a big axe [?] sitting in the front yard and starts swinging at Alfie through the window.
She then chops down a support pillar that sends the balcony awning (or something) crashing down on Alfie and knocking him backwards. Just as she and the kids are making their getaway, Marty jumps out of nowhere. Paige demands to see his wedding ring (just in case, you know, Alfie magically teleported out of the house to a few feet in front of them) which he quickly displays.
Inside the house, Alfie naturally overhears this exchange, which will later give him a Big Idea. He finds another rifle on the wall (boy, good thing Marty’s dad kept firearms in every room), and looks for another way out of the cabin. Marty and his family pile into the SUV, but Paige realizes that she left the keys inside. Good going, Paige. Older Daughter then points out they have a “hide-a-key” under the car. Marty goes out and gets down under the rear bumper looking for it, just as Alfie emerges and takes a shot, hitting the rear wheel-well. Both Marty and Paige fire back, and Marty hits Alfie. Paige, however, hits a potted plant.
Alfie gets up and shoots again. Marty tries to return fire, but finds his gun empty. Don’t you hate when that happens? Paige, meanwhile, is blasting away with her rifle, hitting every possible piece of pottery on the front porch. Despite this slight deficiency in her marksmanship abilities, Alfie runs off in defeat. Marty and Paige get back in the SUV and take off.
Inside the house, Alfie comes across a jewelry box that just happens to have a gold ring in it. He slips it on and runs back out to find Marty’s SUV pulling out. He fires one shot with his rifle, which hits a Spark-Producing box for maximum “cool” effect. Alfie shoots again, and through confusing editing, we’re left with the impression that he hit one of the tires. The SUV veers off the road, plows through some rubble, and comes to a halt. So, if this movie is any guide, slamming a midsize sedan head-on into a tree doesn’t have much of an effect, but a single flat tire on a GMC Yukon will entirely disable the vehicle. So, of course they all get out [!!]. Marty leads them forward, saying that they’re going to go “hide in the mill”. Ah, the old mill. Every town’s got one, you know.
Alfie takes a shot at Marty and hits him in the shoulder. Marty collapses to the ground as steady–handed Paige returns fire. Marty yells at her not to waste the shells (finally!), and they proceed to the mill. Paige tells them to go hide, and she’ll shoot Alfie when he passes. “Don’t block him out,” she says to Marty. “Let him feel you move away. He’ll expect us to be together.” Marty sees the brilliance in this plan (I sure don’t), and takes the girls into hiding.