directed by Nick Stillwell
(Lions Gate, 2006)

Jekyll+Hyde serves up a gritty, 21st-century reenvisioning of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel about good and evil. Despite a lot of avant-garde cinematography, some decent acting and a pretty kicking soundtrack, though, the film never quite makes it over the hump dividing the good from the mundane. It doesn't help that the story has been done to death throughout the decades of cinematic history.

Personally, I don't think anyone named Jekyll should be admitted to medical school -- to me, that's just common sense. I don't think med students should be popping homemade pills all of the time, either, but that doesn't stop it from happening in this film.

Anyway, Henry Jekyll (Bryan Fisher) was admitted to med school, and he is dead set on engineering some kind of mood-altering drug based on Ecstasy. Why? I have no idea. It's not the kind of research project his professor can endorse, so Jekyll continues his work in secret. Experimenting upon himself, he offers video updates describing the side effects and such from the increasingly larger samples of drug he is taking.

The major side effect is the personality change engendered by the drug, which begins turning Jekyll into Hyde. You would think Jekyll would call the whole thing off after finding the bloody body of an unknown female in his bathtub, but by that point it's too late. He's wholly dependent on his dangerous little pill, and he actually likes Hyde because Hyde has all of the strength and confidence that he lacks.

As members of his inner circle of friends begin to die in increasingly gruesome ways, Jekyll isolates himself more and more, even from his sort-of girlfriend Martha (Bree Turner). No one knows about Hyde, and the seemingly nonexistent local police obviously don't suspect him of committing the crimes. Murder will out in the end, of course -- as will bad movie-making. I'm afraid Jekyll+Hyde makes no more than a small ripple in the ocean of this over-exploited genre.

review by
Daniel Jolley

18 December 2010

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