from Film Forum, 05/01/03
In Identity, the new thriller by James Mangold (Kate and Leopold), John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Alfred Molina, and Amanda Peet play some of the characters trapped in a nightmare at an out-of-the-way hotel on a dark and stormy night. As the rain pours, one by one the tenants at the hotel are slain by a mysterious and elusive villain. As the unusual travelers slowly begin to uncover what they all have in common, they also begin to suspect that they cannot trust each other, and that locking their doors may not be enough to save them.
Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) reports, "With a good cast and a psychological twist on a classic premise, Identity has the goods which will please fans of the genre. For those who, like me, don't much care for tense scenes designed to scare or to see images of death and mutilation, my only suggestion would be to keep one eye on the exit and the other eye firmly closed … at least until the lights come up."
Bob Smithouser (Focus on the Family) says, "This is psychological horror for audiences insulted by lazy movies—including today's self-referential screamers—mired in genre clichés. Identity earns style points for trying something different and keeping viewers off-balance with a wild payoff. It could have been scary and suspenseful without the downpour of violence, blood, and raw language."
Gerri Pare (Catholic News Service) says the "talented cast is wasted in [this] bogus horror thriller. While the movie's dark, rain-slicked visuals are appropriately moody, plot holes soon envelop the narrative and diminish suspense, only to lead to an exasperating denouement."
Movieguide's critic says, "Identity is for people who just don't get enough violence on TV. Nerve jangling, shocking, and knee jerking in its intensity (all in just the first 10 minutes), viewers may well indeed wonder how they will last through the other eighty minutes of the movie! There is … no real redemptive point to this movie, which includes enough blood and gore to sicken Sam Peckinpah."
Mainstream critics are arguing about whether the film succeeds or fails here.