“Sanctimony” is an iron-jawed, unashamedly generic serial-killer thriller let down only by dialogue that’s as awkward as the pic’s title. Classily lensed in widescreen and tighter than a rattler’s tail, this should be a steady rental earner (and possible cult movie) in mature markets — where the cast of U.S. video regulars will strike chords among buffs — with some theatrical business elsewhere. Teuton writer-director Uwe Boll is probably best known for his 1991 “German Fried Movie.”
In an unidentified American town (repped by Vancouver), detectives Jim Renart (Michael Pare) and Dorothy Smith (Jennifer Rubin) are under pressure from their superior (Eric Roberts) to solve the case of the Monkey Killer. Said wacko is working his way through the proverb “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” and has so far robbed his victims of six eyes, six ears and three tongues. Renart and Smith cleverly reckon there are three tongues still to go.
Still seriously clueless, the detectives get a break when super-yuppie stockbroker Tom Gerrick (Casper Van Dien) offers himself for questioning as the discoverer of the latest corpse, a teenage girl in the wrong end of town. It’s abundantly clear the Patrick Bateman look-alike is guilty, but nailing the psycho is another matter, especially when the feds are due to take over the case in two days.
Smith, already a tad unsettled by Gerrick’s lizard-like cool, suggests she employ some feminine charm to get him to make a slip. Meanwhile, Gerrick gets ready for an appearance on a TV talkshow that is to be his piece de resistance.
Plot springs some surprises both in its outlandishness and in not respecting casting conventions. Otherwise, it’s purely formulaic, referencing any number of bigger-budgeted predecessors in look and content.
Roberts, surprisingly good, and Van Dien handle the dialogue best, and Catherine Oxenburg, as Renart’s wife, worst. Rubin, looking harder-faced than in her earlier career, makes a good partner to Pare’s macho cop. Finale is weak, but otherwise Mathias Neumann’s saturated, narrow-depth-of-field lensing is always atmospheric.