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After the tragic homicide/suicides of her mother and father during her childhood, her father's partner, Officer Mills, takes in a distraught Jessica Shepard. Years later, a woman stricken with a need to set things right, she takes up the uniform, working her way up the legal ladder. Recently promoted to Homicide, Jessica teams up with Detective Del Marco to crack a serial case in which all the victims are linked to one thing; Jessica. In a twisted labyrinth of successive red herrings, "Twisted" will keep you guessing from beginning to end why this tempestuous woman seems to have the kiss of death.
Written by: Sarah Thorp.
Directed by: Philip Kaufman.
Genre: Thriller / Mystery / Crime
Tagline: Death Kisses and Cigarette-burn wishes?
Rated: R for violence, language, and sexuality.
"TWISTED" begins with your typical artistic depiction of a foggy San Franciscan morning. Pan to the glassy eye of a sweating woman who is being held at gunpoint by a serial rapist-killer and you have your protagonist, Officer Jessica Shepard. After nailing the killer and escaping certain death, Shepard gets promoted to Detective, working alongside the mysterious Detective Del Marco in San Francisco's Homicide Department.
Working together for Shepard's first case, the two must learn to trust one another as a string of murders begins to unfold in the sleepy Bay. One after another, dead bodies of brutally beaten males marked with the signature of a carefully placed cigarette burn find their way to the morgue of Detectives Del Marco and Shepard. As the mystery begins it seems their biggest suspect is Jessica herself, whose impulsive sex-rampages led her to sleep, coincidentally, with all of the victims. Intimately tied to every victim that follows, Detective Del Marco and Officer Mills work to keep Jessica out of trouble, as night after night she suffers a series of blackouts that prevent her from remembering any of her nightly activities. Unable to testify in defense of her innocence, Jessica begins to lose faith in her story as her emotional distress causes an influx of rage and paranoia that render Jessica confused and questioning her own motives in life. Did she, or didn't she? Meanwhile, it seems the only person Shepard can confide in is her annoyingly probing psychologist, Dr. Frank. As she frequents his office for sessions, her confessions might post a clue to the true motive and suspect of the serial killings.
As the story becomes more and more, well, "TWISTED", the film plants a successive line of red herrings to expose one false perpetrator to the next. But just who is this serial killer, and what does Jessica have to do with their victims? Why is the killer tracking down men of intimate relations, and how does the killer have access to the information? With a suspenseful climax that poses the paradox of cop vs. cop, Detective Shepard will have to learn to trust herself before its too late.
Though the film steers clear of expensive action scenes, its suspense/thriller genre justify the focus on a more character development production of the film. Despite receiving numerous bad reviews, "TWISTED" offers more than one might expect. It isn't the overly hyped blockbuster of the year, nor is it low budget enough to seem independent, but "TWISTED" offers a delicate balance of a witty plot, well-paced action, and character development to keep audiences entertained. Moreover, the character development is a gradual process, with layer after layer being peeled back throughout the film to slowly reveal the true nature of not just the protagonist, but of several main characters. With a focused, complete storyline, and a credible set of performances, critical reviews fall too harshly on this potentially promising film.
Jessica Shepard, played by Ashley Judd, is the paranoid, impulsive, tortured soul who is the key suspect in the serial killings of her first big case.
Mike Del Marco, played by Andy Garcia, is the mysteriously unconventional partner of Shepard, whose uneasy ways also prompt a possible speculation of his involvement with the crime.
John Mills, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is the overly protective foster-father/superior Officer of Jessica Shepard.
Dr. Melvin Frank, played by David Strathairn, is Shepard's patient psychologist working to ease her anxiety spawned by a string of life traumatizing events.