Identity is a secret.

Identity is a mystery.

Identity is a killer.

Identity is a rental.

I saw this movie Friday night, and was actually quite impressed by the first half. It was a great setup for a standard thriller premise, a group of strangers being mysteriously killed off one by one. Unfortunately, the second half ruined the experience by presenting a wholly dissatisfying ending.

The best examples of this genre constrain the list of suspects by the circumstances of each death, until the viewer can’t figure out how any of the remaining characters could be responsible, or have the wrong one in mind. Then when the real killer is revealed it’s all very twisted and unexpected. One of Identity’s mistakes is that it constrains the possibilities too far, so that the ending was transparent about halfway through the film. Another mistake is that when I figured it out I thought, “That better not be the answer, because it’s really lame.” Sadly, I was quite correct.

One almost has to wonder if it was this particular screenplay being parodied in Adaptation with The 3.

The reviewer over at Slate makes similar points, and Mr. Cranky offers some sage advice: “I suggest paying for half a ticket, leaving after 50 minutes and imagining a decent ending.”

Also, my friend Jenny suggests the following alternative tagline: Identity is an operator.