Michael Mann (USA, 1943)
The Keep (1983)
Manhunter (1986), a De Palma-esque thriller, is based on Thomas Harris' novel "Red Dragon" (1981).
Will is a retired FBI officer who lives in a beach house
with his wife Molly and their child Kevin.
His boss Jack comes to visit him and ask for his help to solve an important case: a serial killer who kills during every full moon.
He accepts and next we see him checking out the scene of the crime, where an
entire family was brutally slaughtered.
At the hotel he watches videos of family life found in the house.
He seems to re-live the event from the viewpoint of the killer and guesses
that the killer must have taken off his gloves at one point.
He wants a special officer to check again the victims.
We learn that Will caught a serial killer three years earlier, a doctor called Lecktor
We also learn that the serial killer leaves bite marks on his victims.
The special officer finds thumbprints that were missed before.
Will would also like to find out what happened to the family's cat that was not found.
Will is approached by nosy reporter Freddy, and Will overreacts throwing him against the windshield of a car. We learn that Will was hospitalized after
catching Lecktor and Freddy sneaked into the hospital and took pictures of Will's wounds while Will was unconscious.
Will decides to visit Lecktor in prison to get rid of his own trauma.
But in reality he wants Lecktor's help to figure out how the killer picks his
victims. Will teases Lecktor until Lecktor accepts
to look at the files in his prison cell.
Lecktor toys with Will's brain and manages to bring back Will's trauma so that Will runs out of the prison as if chased by a ghost.
Freddy is waiting outside and takes pictures of him, so that his newspaper's headlines read that Will visited Lecktor at the prison.
Lecktor asks for a phone to make a call to his lawyer, but then uses the paper of a chewing gum to hijack the phone line and call a psychiatrist who works with Will. Pretending to be a publisher who wants to send a review copy to Will, he obtains Will's home address.
We understand that Lecktor is not only dangerous but extremely smart.
Will visits another house where the killer struck. He approaches it like
an intruder. He finds a rope hanging from a tree branch and climbs it, and
guesses that the killer must have been sitting on that tree all day long
spying on the family.
Will calls Jack and tells him that he wants to find out
which cutting tool was used to cut the branches of the tree and wants to
find out the meaning of a mark that the killer left on the tree.
Jack mobilizes experts but right then he gets a phone call from the warden
of the prison that they found a note hidden inside a book in Lecktor's cell:
the note appears to be from the killer. The killer expresses his admiration
for Lecktor and mentions that he finds Will fascinating.
Will tells Jack to replace the note in
Lecktor's cell so that Lecktor will not know that they found it,
but first they analyze the note and discover instruction on how to communicate by posting personal messages in Freddy's newspaper.
Jack wants to intercept the next message and replace it with an invitation
to show up at a train station where cops will be waiting to make an arrest,
but first they have to figure out which code Lecktor and the killer are using.
A message from the killer posted in the newspaper has strange references like
"Galatians 15:2" (but Galatians in the Bible only has six chapters) and
"Jonah 6:8" (but Jonah only has four chapters), so clearly they are not
using the Bible to generate their code.
If Jack posts a message without the right code, the killer will know that
it's not coming from Lecktor.
Jack's team tries to find out which books Lecktor has access to, but there is no time: the newspaper is about to go to press. Will decides to print the
fake message anyway.
Will also offers himself as bait to catch the killer. We learn that his
retirement was caused by a trauma caused by the Lecktor case. His friend Sidney
discourages him from getting into another mess.
Will provokes the killer by giving Freddy the interview that Freddy desires,
except that Will dreams up everything, and it's a scathing profile of the
killer as a depraved, homosexual, impotent individual who even had sex with
his own mother.
Jack's team still can't decipher the code used by Lecktor and the killer, but
has found out that
the mark on the tree is a Chinese character that means "red dragon".
Will walks at night in a deserted street while snipers are ready to strike
if the killer attacks him.
A man runs towards him and Will grabs him, but he's just a jogger.
The real killer kidnaps Freddy instead.
Freddy wakes up blindfolded and tied to a wheelchair.
The killer, referring to himself as the "Red Dragon", blames Freddy for the disparaging article.
The killer forces Freddy to watch a slide show of his victims before and after killing them and the last slide is a picture of Freddy, implying that he's going to die.
The killer forces Freddy to read a statement that the article was all lies
and then sets him on fire.
Jack's team finally decodes Lecktor's message to the killer: it contains Will's home address and instructions to kill Will and his entire family.
The police wake up Jack's wife and child in the middle of the night, surrounding the home to protect them.
Molly and the child get relocated to a secret location.
Will tells his son Kevin what happened with Lecktor: Lecktor was killing
college girls, in order to catch him Will had to immerse in the mindset of
a serial killer, Lecktor attacked him in a brutal way but was captured,
Will ended up in a psychiatric hospital because he kept thinking like
a serial killer, the ugliest thoughts in the world.
It's six days from the next full moon, when presumably the killer will strike again.
The film shifts to a film laboratory, where a Francis works: he's the killer, as evidenced by the photograph he has of one of his victims, a married woman.
A blind co-worker, Reba, needs a ride home and Francis accepts to ride her.
As they leave the lab, he surprises her with a stop by a veterinarian room where
a tiger has been sedated on a surgical table
for dental treatment.
She is allowed to caress it and is fascinated by the heartbeat, and Francis is fascinanted by her fascination.
He takes her to dinner and then to his place, where he pretends he's watching
a movie when in reality he's watching a video of the married woman before
he killed her and her entire family.
Francis and Reba make love, with Reba more proactive than him. After sex, he sobs.
Back to Will, he hears from Jack that his team has identified
the tyre tracks left at the scene of Freddy's murder as belonging to a van.
Will also phones Lecktor, who psychoanalyzes him as a potential serial killer
but also reveals something about the mindset of a serial killer.
Will retraces the steps of the killer as he entered the house of the married woman.
Back to Francis, he spies on a date by Reba with another man. Francisc loses
control in his van. As the man is leaving the house, Francis shoots him dead.
He then walks into Reba's house and kidnaps her.
Back to Will, he thinks he understands the mindset of the killer:
he dreams about being desired, he uses mirrors, he doesn't take souvenirs but
must be taking other kinds of mementos (we already know he in fact takes
pictures and videos).
Jack is desperate because they found no connection between the two families that were slaughtered so far and it's almost midnight of the full-moon night: the killer is about to strike somewhere but they haven't figured out the logic nor who he is.
However, Will is so good at immersing in the killer's mindset that he guesses
that the killer knew everything about the two families he killed, which means that he saw the home videos made by the two families before he walked into their homes.
They have been looking all the time for similarities between the two killings and this is it: the killer saw both home videos of these two unrelated families.
He asks Jack to check the labels on the tapes: they show
that both videos were developed in the same laboratory, which we know is Francis' workplace.
While Jack and Will are flying towards the city of the laboratory, they talk with the
laboratory and try to find the employee who developed the films. They are
looking for a white man with blond hair who drives a van. And that's how they
pinpoint Francis. They land and head for Francis' residence, asking the local
police to meet them there.
Back to Francis, he's terrorizing Reba who cannot see him.
Francis breaks a mirror and grabs a big shard to kill Reba who cannot see what he is doing.
Will arrives just in time to see this and jumps through a window.
This saves Reba but Will is injured and falls to the ground unconscious.
Francis starts shooting at the cops.
Will recovers just in time to shoot Francis dead.
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