directed by Hampton Fancher
based on a novel
written by Lew McCreary
The film starts out with Vann, our friendly neighborhood serial killer walking into a bar somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. It is here he meets Sheryl Crow (in her debut film appearance.
There is some tension between her and the bartender. Apparently she has run up a large tab and the bartender is losing his patience. Owen agrees to pay for her drink(s) and even gives her a ride. He discovers Sheryl’s character is a junkie which probably leads him to offer her a drink from his flask which contains a deadly elixir.
He drives along the highway until he comes into this small town. He finds out there is a house that a couple own with a room for rent. They are experiencing a subtle melancholy ever since their daughter departed some time ago. The exact details of her leaving we do not know. He meets the wife, Jane Durwin, who tells him the basic rules (which will be broken one by one by the husband and then the wife). She then tells him to go meet the husband, Mr. Durwin. The husband talks to him and then welcomes him into the couple’s home.
What’s fun to watch is how this stranger will easily creep into their lives and the concern and compassion they show for him. The husband even invites him to a football game where Vann meets his next victim, the star quarterback of the high school football team.
The husband will also get him a job (he eventually gets a promotion). At the job he meets Ferrin who instantly takes a liking to him. They have their moments of flirtation and you never quite know how Vann truly feels about her. He treats her well and the first moment alone at Ferrin’s you see how he may be falling for her but then you wonder after the second (and final) time they hang out together if what you were seeing was how Vann really saw her. Was he looking at her as a friend, lover, or victim?
Vann has a weird hobby in case you have not noticed it by now. At one of the ironic moments in the film you see Vann mixing his elixir and watching a documentary on cane toads (the documentary he is watching is on this node: cane toad). Perhaps the reason why Vann gets along so well with the husband is because the hubby also has a weird hobby; he likes to beat himself up.
We soon see that Vann is the nicest serial killer you would ever want to meet and you would love to have him as a guest in your house. He may even help you wash the dishes after a fine meal. There is another thing he keeps secret; he talks to these two imaginary detectives who give him the good cop bad cop routine.
All in all we see that Vann is your model serial killer. He does not use violence and he only kills people who are feeling miserable. He even patiently assists the police whenever he can. He may even make a good uncle or big older brother.