In Mauro Borrelli’s Mindcage, a serial copycat killer is on the loose. The police must ask the original killer for help. One of the detectives helped put him away, and is dealing with trauma of having to deal with these cases. What price will the original killer demand for his help—and what psychological price which the detectives have to pay?
When a dead body of a prostitute is found in a church staged to look like an angel, it seems very clear that this is a familiar pattern. Detectives Jake Doyle (Martin Lawrence) and Mary Kelly (Melissa Roxburgh) begin to investigate. It is obviously reminiscent of The Artist (John Malkovich). Everything seems identical to The Artist’s murders—even in ways that were never made public. Doyle was involved in The Artist’s murder case and he carries emotional scars because of what happened to his partner.
The Artist is currently being held at a mental facility pending his upcoming execution. Kelly goes to the facility to ask for his help in finding the copycat killer. The Artist only will help if his sentence can be commuted to life. As the crimes keep building an agreement is reached. The Artist is a master manipulator (as one might assume given the way he had manipulated crime scenes). Each encounter with The Artist becomes a challenge for Kelly to try to stay in control of what is going on. The question is if she can prevail against such an accomplished manipulator.
The film is replete with religious imagery. That includes the ways the killer stages the bodies. It also delves into some concepts of angelology and demonology. Yet, there really aren’t actual religious themes such as redemption or mercy. Only the dark side of religious lore comes into play.
For me psychological thrillers are about getting inside the human mind to see the flaws that might shed light on our lives. The demons that are important should be those within us. Using the supernatural to explain what happens always takes me out of the story. We have enough evil within us. The discovery of how these murders are happening and The Artist’s role in them, even while locked up, is one of those supernatural explanations that always is a bit too much for me to accept.
It also didn’t sit well with me that the victory that Kelly achieves against The Artist may have a bit of justice, but it only comes by becoming the very thing she is trying to destroy. For me it is a pyrrhic victory that we are asked to feel is right, but we should see as just an extension of the evil The Artist has created.
Mindcage is in theaters and on VOD on December 16th, 2022.
Photos courtesy of Lionsgate.