Character actor Michael Cudlitz’s first leading role is the sole selling point of “Dark Tourist,” a well-acted but rote and ultimately repellent character study of a psychologically disturbed loner. Bleak and ponderous picture feels much longer than its 80-minute running time and manages none of the lurid pull of its varied influences, including “Taxi Driver,” “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” and “The Crying Game.” Unsurprisingly, limited theatrical exposure was a dead end, while simultaneous VOD release seems a better bet to attract feel-bad junkies.
Yonkers security guard Jim Tahna (Cudlitz) visits the rural California hometown of one of his favorite killers, Carl Marznap (Pruitt Taylor Vince), and forges disquieting bonds with two locals: a widowed waitress (Melanie Griffith, a warm, welcome presence) and a seductive prostitute (Suzanne Quast, credible in a physically demanding role). Director Suri Krishnamma (“A Man of No Importance”) and actor-turned-writer Frank John Hughes adopt a serious-minded approach to potentially exploitative material, opting for escalating dread over graphic violence as Jim retraces Carl’s steps. Yet the lack of any deeper insight or meaning shines through in the abundance of expository voiceover and predictable, simplistic payoff.