Period detective movie with outstanding craft and style. Albert Fish was one of the first serial killers to live and die in America in the early part of the last century. Although he committed crimes beyond comprehension, his tale was relatively unknown, until now.The story is based on a solid script with emphasis on plot and character rather than gore and violence. This is not to say that this is a family movie. It just avoids the temptation of gratuitous violence and instead focuses on the human dimensions of the protagonists. The story follows Detective King on his obsessive manhunt as he <more>
assembles the clues to establish the killer's identity. At the same time, it attempts to read into the mind of the killer, even portraying a bit of his human side.There are great performances by Patrick Bauchau Fish and Jack Conley Detective King . In addition, the stars of the movie was the stellar photography by Dave Rudd, and the production design by Jennifer Gentile. Given the modest budget, the film convincingly captures the feel of New York in the 1920s and 1930s. The art department went to great lengths to recreate the slightest period details. And yes, it was shot on actual 35 mm film, in unsurpassed color. A visual feast.
"The Gray Man" is an important addition to the horror genre. Director Scott Flynn chose to tell the story of Albert Fish, a serial murderer who is believed to have murdered and cannibalized several young children in the late 1920s and early 1930s in the environs of New York City. Fish worked as a handyman and painter in most of the neighborhoods he lived in, and was seen for the most part as a relatively inoffensive and grandfatherly individual by many people. In reality, he is said to have possessed a raging sociopathic pattern that knew its roots in the harsh treatment he received <more>
in state orphanages run by religious fanatics in the upper boroughs of the city. Flynn's film gives the viewer a slight background of Fish's character so that even the most offended audience member can understand Fish's motivation. The man remains genuinely creepy in depiction, however, simply due to the deep horror of life that true degeneracy, or "evil", if you must, rarely has a loud "telegraph". Albert Fish is scary because he looks like the earnest, hard working sort of character who you'd hire to repair your furnace. "The Gray Man" is also a significant work in horror, because it puts to rest the idea that a grisly tale must rely upon grisly depiction in order to unsettle the viewer. Director Flynn has wisely chosen not to graphically re-create the murders, and does not bother with lurid presentations of children being dissected or disposed of as meat. It might seem ridiculous that I would even have to point this out, but anyone who knows contemporary horror understands how little credit all too many Gothic film makers lend the imagination of their public anymore. I don't want to belabor the point, suffice it to say that "The Gray Man" puts films like "Saw" and "Hostel" to shame. Very few things in this life are as terrifying as a child murderer, Flynn and his cast put this true story across without much reliance on the sensational. Why, they even rely on a few little tricks like "atmosphere" here. Imagine that.Leading the cast is veteran actor Patrick Bauchau, who brings the character of Albert Fish himself a terrifying but not entirely unlikeable quality. His work in this film is a delicately balanced affair that is more effective than that of Anthony Hopkins in "The Silence of the Lambs". Hopkin's performance in that work is outstanding, of course, but it is relatively melodramatic and over- the- top compared to the craft and restraint Bauchau offers here.. Following Bauchau up as the intrepid Missing Persons investigator Will King is Jack Conley, whose world weary demeanor I found very welcome in this age of celluloid depictions of lantern jawed law enforcement officials who always know what to do. Conley's King is a man unsure in his surety, a gumshoe who's likable for the same reasons we like Jake Gittes in "Chinatown" and Sam Spade in "The Maltese Falcon". He's sort of an anti-bureaucratic bureaucrat.The other supporting cast members are quite good, most notably the perpetually bemused children of Albert Fish, Gertrude and Albert Jr., who know him alternately as both solid family man and abusive personality. The roles are handled by Mollie Milligan and Silas Mitchell. Jillian Armaneni is powerful as the mother of Grace Budd, the victim of Fish whose disappearance finally put investigators on his trail, and Lexi Ainsworth is very fine as Grace herself. Ben Hall holds his own as Grace's brother Albert, and character actor Bill Flynn has an appearance as the notorious Dr. Frederick Wertham yes, he of the controversial 1950s anti- comic book crusade who was a defense witness at the Fish trial as Fish and his crew pleaded insanity.As for accuracy, who knows? So much has been written about the case that, now, seventy five years after the events themselves, it's even more difficult to separate the folklore from the reality of the moment. Albert Fish has entered that realm of real-life bogeymen with a distinction known by few, so the scuttlebutt will continue to blossom. Be that as it may, "The Gray Man" is a finely crafted, ambitious and riveting horror film, one of the few in the contemporary samples from the genre that is worthy of the time it takes to view it.
Polarizing and reminiscent of the classics of its genre. (by adrenachrome-3)
This isn't a slasher and given the fact that most of Fish's victims were children, which he sexually molested and cannibalized, that isn't too surprising a fact. Further evidence of this if needed was the fact the Chiller channel released this alongside Hitchcock's "Psycho" in a masters of suspense double bill.****Here starts the spoilers, in so much that reference will be made to the true story on which this is based and how this was portrayed in this film****What this is, notwithstanding, is a film that focuses on the murder of Grace Budd and the police <more>
investigation that leads to Fish's eventual arrest. Set against the backdrop of the great depression, the film shows the effects such crimes have, not only on the victims and their families, but indeed, the killer and his loved ones as well. It's worth mentioning this, as some of the photography and visuals belie the limited budget of this ambitious period piece. Mention has been made of a train and metal railings that were not to period, but given the budget and location this in itself is laudable and such things were well hidden from anyone but the most perceptive and in my mind no way interferes with the film or the telling of it. Certainly the set decoration and costumer departments did a wonderful job and scenes like the Western Union telegram repository are truly beautiful and evocative. Shot mostly in Gutherie and Oklahoma City the film does give one the look and feel of Depression-era New York. How they made The local Masonic Lodge look like Grand Central Station is beyond me, but that I guess is where a director's vision becomes very evident in the ability to see that and believably recreate it in such a strange location. An Easter egg in this scene are the flower and sweet sellers, which are the two news anchors for Fox 25, who ran coverage of the filming of the Gray Man under the heading "Okiewood"!!Drawing from the original letters Fish wrote to his family, lawyer, doctors... and most chillingly, several victims, these and the trial transcripts were handed to the Producers by Fish's trial lawyer and used as source material. Several scenes were also created around photographs of Fish and his family and while this doesn't add anything truly to the overall film, it does speak to the intelligent use by the director and makes for another wonderful Easter egg.This is one of the films you wish they had made a mini-series of. Plunging into the darkness the film maker holds on the central plot of the abduction and murder of Grace Budd. Given this was an Indie and thus the running time was dictated for commercial showing, it shows several abductions, alluding to the murders if not showing them. It would have been nice to have more and one suspects much had to be left on the cutting room floor. Still what we have is well crafted and accurate.In a world where we have become desensitized to violence the director goes the intellectual route and crafts suspense and leaves the bad things for your minds eye to create and dwell on. Something I wager which is far scarier. It isn't Disney, it's intelligent and for those that seek blood, gorging on human flesh and excrement this isn't the film for you. Yes these are mentioned or showed in a stylized way that retains the horror sans a Chuckyesque knife- wielding maniac. There is also no teenage sex or pounding rock music to distract you either. Flynn uses Bauchau in the vein of Wells, portraying him as a grandfatherly figure, the demonic is seen in flashes and in a command performance Bauchau's Fish is absolutely chilling.Further comparison can be had to the old masters in the stylized filming of the Budd scene in which we are introduced to the angelic Grace Budd. In fact throughout, the camera is moved wonderfully and every shot used to support and promote the emotional narrative. In the age of 5 camera lock-offs, jump cuts and CGI, is a film purist's dream. All in all, this was a film of which I left wanting to see more. While this wasn't a slasher or indeed, a documentary, what it is is a nicely crafted true crime story that is entertaining and makes one talk, think and feel. Overall the acting, camera work and direction were above par, with the jobs done by Bauchau, Flynn and Rudd respectively worth higher praise. The film is in Fincher territory rather than Roth, not that that's a bad or good thing, it just is. While this isn't the full story, we're all going to have to wait for a mini-series to get that. In the mean time color me intrigued and hoping for such an event.
Solid film about 1930's real life serial child killer (by Andy-296)
A solid thriller about Albert Fish a very fine performance by Patrick Bauchau , the real life serial killer of children in 1930's America. Fish seemed a harmless old man, but in 1934 he was arrested as the murderer of several missing children he somehow duped their families into leaving him with using an assumed name throughout . Part character study and part detective procedural, The Gray Man wisely avoids graphic horror and sensationalism Fish's murders, for instance, are never shown on camera , and while it is rather conventional, it is nevertheless quite chilling nonetheless <more>
and it shows a director with a very keen sense of storytelling.