Lou Diamond Phillips stars in this contrived but entertaining thriller (which he also wrote) as Mitchell Osgood, an aspiring writer who runs a Los Angeles bookstore. When a heartfelt book about his father Haing S. Ngor fails to win him a publishing deal, Osgood decides to write something more eye-catching -- a book about recently-released serial killer Albert Merrick Clancy Brown. The media beats him to it, so the ruthlessly ambitious Osgood decides to spur Merrick to commit more crimes, hiring him to work at the bookstore and playing cruel mind games in hopes of setting Merrick off. He does, but the results are quite different from what Osgood had anticipated. Phillips' performance is weak, and the screenplay is predictably bland, but the film remains worthwhile thanks to a terrific job by Brown as the killer. Brown has turned in a number of fine psycho performances, but he has rarely been better than he is here, building from understated diffidence to full-blown psychosis in expert fashion. Grace Zabriskie and Willard E. Pugh co-star with Cecilia Peck.
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