The Alphabet Killer (2008)

Genre(s): Crime / Drama / Thriller
Anchor Bay || R - 98 minutes - $26.97 || January 6, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-02-18

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Rob Schmidt
Writer(s): Tom Malloy (written by)
Cast: Eliza Dushku, Cary Elwes, Tom Malloy, Michael Ironside, Bill Moseley, Timothy Hutton

Theatrical Release Date: November 7, 2008

Supplemental Material:
  • 2 Feature Commentaries
  • Featurette
  • Alternate Scene

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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.::THE FILM::.

The Alphabet Killer stars Eliza Dushku (TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dollhouse”) Megan Paige a Rochester detective who becomes obsessed with a serial killer who is seemingly hunting down kids with “double initials” (i.e. “M.M.”). During this time, she has a mental breakdown, starts hallucinating and when she can’t catch the killer, decides to try and kill herself. Sometime later, her ex-boyfriend (Elwes), now Police Chief, gets her a desk job but when the killings resume, now two years later, Paige asks to be put back on the case, in a contributing capacity rather than lead investigator. She does fine for a bit but then the hallucinations start up and those who were killed begin to haunt her once again.

I love Eliza Dushku; she’s a fine actress and a beautiful woman but utterly wrong for this part. Although it doesn’t help matters the script doesn’t exactly give her much to worth with, I never felt she was right as a police detective. I’m not sure if it’s because she lacks the emotional depth in a movie about a serial child killer but during the 90-minutes of screen time, I never once believed her. Perhaps it’s the medium; performances on television are completely different than a performance for feature films.

I guess the only saving grace is the performances from the supporting cast. Cary Elwes is, well, Cary Elwes, nothing you haven’t seen before, but his contribution to the movie was a nice offset to Dushku. Add in the invaluable Michael Ironside and Oscar-winner Timothy Hutton, and you have – at best – an acceptable movie.

The Alphabet Killer was directed by Rob Schmidt, the man behind 2003’s backwoods horror flick Wrong Turn also starring Eliza Dushku. I guess when the material doesn’t measure up and your lead actress gives a less than memorable performance; I’m not sure how much blame I can place on the director. Of course, it is the director’s job to get the most out of his/her actors. Schmidt’s style, however, is pretty standard for this genre. It’s dark, gloomy and offers little tension.

The movie was written by Tom Malloy who also has a small-ish role as a police officer. I actually felt the script had opportunity to make the movie something better, even for a “Based on a True Story” and cliché direction, if only the casting were better.


The DVD has two feature commentaries (1. Director Rob Schmidt and Producer Isen Robbins, 2. Writer/Producer/Actor Tom Malloy); A to Z: The Making of The Alphabet Killer (6:05), a montage of behind-the-scenes footage and an Alternate Scene (3:00).


Presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 2.35 aspect ratio, The Alphabet Killer looks alright but at least it wasn’t cheap looking, probably one of the better looking direct-to-DVD flicks I’ve seen recently. Colors are fairly muted as the director tries to create some sort of atmosphere that a serial child killer demands. The DVD offers a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is serviceable. Dialogue is clear and I do recall some ambient noise coming from the front speakers but the rear speakers don’t get much use.


The Alphabet Killer is in an interesting but poorly executed psychological crime drama. Eliza Dushku is a fine woman and a good actress, however when she gets a subpar script and just an all-around subpar movie, she cannot carry a movie on her shoulders.