The Barnes & Noble Review
When a sadistic movie buff begins re-creating some of the most gruesome murder scenes ever captured on celluloid -- the chainsaw scene from Scarface, Glenn Close's infamous bathroom demise in Fatal Attraction, etc. -- Philadelphia homicide detectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano (featured in 2005's The Rosary Girls) must catch the notorious psycho before he's gone with the wind.
Videotaped footage of the reenacted murders begins showing up, spliced into rental videos that have been stolen from and then replaced in independent video stores, and Byrne and Balzano -- who are both dealing with life-changing issues -- must somehow track down an ingenious madman dubbed the Actor, "a man of a thousand guises, skilled in the arts of dialect and stage movement." Byrne, who is recovering from a near-fatal gunshot wound to the head, and Balzano, who is struggling with a crumbling marriage, follow a meandering evidence trail that leads them through seedy no-tell motels, big-budget movie sets, the subterranean realm of fetishist pornographers, and, eventually, the stuff of their worst nightmares .
Montanari's newest thriller -- arguably his most thematically explosive work to date -- not only examines humanity's dark side, it wallows in it. From masochism to misogyny and slavery to sadism, this blood-splattered journey through the underbelly of the motion picture industry is as repulsive as it is riveting. Antibacterial soap not included. Paul Goat Allen