The Last Victim AKA Dear Mr Gacy (2010)
(18) Running time: 103 minutes
Director: Svetozar Ristovski
Writers: Kelly Madison, Clark Peterson, Jason Moss (book)
Starring: William Forsythe, Jesse Moss
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HC critic
Serial killer films come and go and with so many being made, it is often hard for a film to have much of an impact. Something extra special is needed these days to rise above the other serial killer films around, and The Last Victim has that. Here is a serial killer film that will leave a lasting impression not only due to the fact it is based on actual events, but also down to the terrific performances and direction by all involved. Director Ristovski presents us with a stripped down, not bull shit study on one of the most famous serial killers in history, John Wayne Gacy.
The film is based on the book written by Jason Moss, a student who attempted to get into the mind of Gacy in order to write a paper on him while at University. Moss believed that he could manipulate Gacy by sending him letters sprayed with aftershave and also sending him pictures of himself in suggestive poses. Moss is obsessed with getting the true story of Gacy out of him, something no one else has managed to do and Moss ends up far too involved and falls deeper and deeper into a nightmare he finds harder and harder to escape from. The film follows Moss’ every move, and he is played superbly by Jesse Moss (no relation), the young actor is captivating and incredibly interesting as we watch him go from quiet, nice lad into something much darker as his telephone conversations and letters from Gacy become more intense and more personal.
Gacy is played brilliantly by the hit and miss William Forsythe who is on incredible and chilling form here. A friend to most of the guards while he sits on death row and talking of “friends in high places”, Forsythe creates a true monster who is almost fragile to look at, until he doesn’t need to be nice anymore. He leads Moss on a journey deep into his mind, and what started off as a simple letter from Moss builds into a strong relationship where they appear to become friends. Gacy phone’s Moss at home and asks personal questions about his sex life and him as a person, and once over the shock, Moss begins to enjoy talking with his new found celebrity friend. The change in Moss’ appearance is staggering, although almost un-noticeable, it is a brilliant performance and incredibly believable as he alienates himself from friends and family. A chilling moment comes after heading out at night looking for one of Gacy’s victims who got away: Moss becomes more and more fascinated with gay men and prostitutes and takes a female prostitute back to a motel. It is here he realises just how deep into Gacy’s world he has fallen.
This is a superb serial killer portrayal, and the feeling of things not turning out with a happy ending become more and more evident as the film goes on. This is an intense, often frightening ride and certainly not a pleasant one. All involved should be applauded for delivering a serial killer film which goes over plenty of old ground in terms of creativity, but somehow makes it fresh and extremely interesting. This is a contained and carefully delivered true story, and from what I have read, stays very close to the source material. If you enjoy serial killer films with a bit of effort put into them, you cannot go far wrong with The Last Victim.