Many people think that the current wave of true crime obsession is something new. But there was the crime novel boom of the 80s and let’s face it, people loved this stuff in Victorian times.
We’re fascinated by the dark side of the human psyche. And certainly, in recent years (as well as the work of Ann Rule), we’ve also spent time getting to know the victims of these tragedies.
So it was plenty of fun to learn there was a movie about a true crime-obsessed teen in 1995. Surely with a girl as our heroine, we’ll get some of that insight into our victims? Oh no? It will just be a really weird romantic thriller? Well…
True Crime follows high school senior Mary. She loves mysteries and wants to be a police officer one day, just like her dad. She pesters the local police detective for leads and listens to the police scanner for fun.
Following the murder of one of her classmate’s sisters, Kathleen, Mary begins to look more closely at the series of murders, understanding that they are likely all done by the same person.
While trying to learn more about Kathleen, Mary ends up at the local swimming pool where she catches a man creeping on some of the younger girls. She follows him home, and eventually, he begins to follow her. After she attacks him at a supermarket, they both are dragged to the precinct where Mary learns the man is a young police cadet.
The cadet is introduced as Tony. We’re meant to think he’s trustworthy and just as eager to solve the case as Mary, but actor Kevin Dillon plays him in such an unconvincing way. Tony immediately becomes #1 on my suspect list! But he certainly isn’t on Mary’s as she begins to fall in love with him (ick).
The two try to solve the murders together. They chase after a guy working at a carnival. They look for a blue car. They continue to make huge leaps in logic.
Mary eventually breaks into Tony’s house. She finds bleach and other cleaning supplies. She knows that the killer cleaned his victims after their murders. He has the right kind of car as the killer. But surely he’s not the killer! Any sort of true crime fan would be able to accept Tony’s very weak defences!
And then we’re only two-thirds of the way into the movie! It keeps going! We know Tony is the killer, but the film pretends that there’s absolutely NO WAY he is. This is absolute disrespect to the audience’s intelligence. At least wrap it up quickly if we want to make it that obvious!
Unfortunately, True Crime seems to only get worse at that point. It’s really not a fun time for anyone.
I think I was maybe too optimistic for a movie made in 1995. By the end of the 90s minutes, I still know nothing about the victims (well, Katheleen liked to swim!) and even the motivation for the killings is just…vague? So there’s nothing satisfying about the story or the mystery.
We’ve come a long way in the world of crime storytelling. Not to say that there weren’t always good stories, but I don’t know – I’m trying anything and everything to explain away this film! It’s baffling!
Mary was played by the always-adorable Alicia Silverstone. She’s hardly convincing as a mousy loser, but I’ll suspend my disbelief on that one. She’s easily the best thing about this movie, as well as Bill Nunn’s detective character (he, unfortunately, also plays a very dumb character).
This movie wasn’t released theatrically, and I can see why. Give this one a miss and find yourself a good mystery to sink your teeth into.