So, here’s a few good things about the 2002 film, Unspeakable.
First off, Jeff Fahey plays the governor of New Mexico. Any film that presents us with a world where Jeff Fahey can be elected governor of an actual state has to be worth something. Seriously, I’ve long thought that the country would be more interesting if actors were elected to run each state. Here in Texas, for instance, there was a movement to draft Tommy Lee Jones a few years ago. (Personally, I’d rather live under Governor McConaughey.) Steven Seagal (agck!) apparently wanted to run for governor of Arizona and, of course, Cynthia Nixon actually ran up in New York. There’s always a chance of Alec Baldwin running for something and, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger actually did govern California for two terms. Val Kilmer, I should add, came close to running for governor of New Mexico, where this film is set! Personally, I’d vote for Jeff Fahey over Val Kilmer, It’s the eyes.
Another good thing about Unspeakable is that it features Dennis Hopper playing a crazed prison warden who rambles about how much he enjoys sending people to the electric chair. “I am God!” Hopper says at one point and you have to enjoy any scene that features Dennis Hopper saying, “I am God!” in a southwestern accent.
Another fun thing about Unspeakable is that it features Dina Meyer and Lance Henriksen as scientists! Meyer invents this weird little headband thing that allows her to look into your mind and see your thoughts. Let me repeat this for those of you who might have missed the significance: DINA MEYER HAS INVENTED A MACHINE THAT ALLOW HER TO SEE EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING IN SOMEONE’S MIND! If that wasn’t amazing enough, there’s also the fact that no one seems to be that impressed. In fact, no one really cares. Everyone just kind of shrugs it off.
Meyer and Henriksen ask for permission to test their invention out on death row inmates. Sure, why not? It’s not like Warden Hopper cares what happens to the inmates, right? Meyer discovers that one of the inmates is innocent! Unfortunately, no one cares. Gov. Fahey, who is also Meyer’s former lover, refuses to commute the sentence because he’s got an election coming up and voters love the death penalty. And so, that innocent man goes off to the electric chair.
But wait! There’s a new prisoner on death row. His name is Jesse Mowatt and he’s played by Pavan Grover, the doctor who wrote this film. It turns out that he is America’s most prolific serial killer! He’s murdered hundreds of people, all because of some weird issue he has with religion. Anyway, it’s pretty obvious that this killer has a date with the electric chair but first, Meyer gets to use her amazing-invention-that-nobody-cares-about on him. What she discovers is that this serial killer might be a demon-possessed monster who can use his mind to drive other people to do things like rip their faces off. Or maybe he’s just really clever. He does definitely have super strength and beats up any guard that comes near him. It never occurs to the guards to use handcuffs on him or anything. That’s just the type of prison that it is.
Anyway, I appreciated the film’s anti-death penalty theme but the film still got a bit too heavy-handed for my tastes. Pavan Grover wrote himself a pretty good part but he doesn’t really have the screen presence necessary to do the whole irresistible sociopath thing. Still, I appreciate any movie that features Jeff Fahey as a governor.