Unfortunately, this "Dark Man" of childhood secrets has called too many times already, and this thoroughly routine nail-biter should have been titled "When the Deja-Vu Man Calls." This is standard fare, featuring a familiar star running a gamut of fearful expressions while the director
exhibits enough flair to distract viewers from realizing this warm beer has lost its foam.
As radio talk show psychologist Julie Kaiser (Joan Van Ark) faces impending divorce from husband Max (Barry Flatman), her plans for a new life come apart. Constantly plagued by childhood flashbacks to the discovery of her parents' slain bodies, Julie is knocked for a loop by the news that their
convicted murderer, ex-family handyman Parmenter (Geoffrey Lewis), is a free man after a 25-year stretch.
Although reassured by her brother Lloyd (Chris Sarandon), Julie freaks out when the vengeful ex-con begins phoning her with warped protestations of his innocence. Refusing to lean on Max, newly independent Julie finally realizes that Parmenter means business when he nearly chokes her to death in a
parking garage while her daughter is trapped helplessly in a nearby elevator.
Enlisting the aid of Detective Michael Lieberman (James Read), with whom she once had an affair, Julie starts going over the psychological edge, with creepy thoughts that maybe she was the murderess. Still vindictive, crank-caller Parmenter fails to assassinate Julie with a high-powered rifle
aimed through her bedroom--and then he winds up dead in the abandoned family home where the crimes originally occurred.
Trying to exorcise her demons even as she suspects childhood sweetheart Max of killing her abusive dad and ineffectual mom, Julie slips out of police custody to revisit her Waterloo. After her suspect Max gets conked unconscious, Julie recovers her memory, which points to lying Lloyd as the
killer. Dismissing his plea to let sleeping parents lie, Julie shoots her punishment-avoiding sibling with a handgun he loaned to her.
Ground out like Grand Guignol sausage, WHEN THE DARKMAN CALLS is a series of gasping screams interrupted by a plot line. From his first appearance, Sarandon has former teenage terminator stamped on his forehead. That leaves the audience cheerleaders at an uneven grudge match between a screwed-up
childhood witness and a wrongly convicted (but despicable anyway) ex-convict. On the nighttime TV soap "Knots Landing," Van Ark always seemed to act with her exaggerated eyebrows, forever penciled into an expression of surprise. While she gets more of a non-stop emotional workout here, she is very
much the coiffed personality mimicking fear for her fans. (Violence, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1995
- Rating: NR
- Review: Unfortunately, this "Dark Man" of childhood secrets has called too many times already, and this thoroughly routine nail-biter should have been titled "When the Deja-Vu Man Calls." This is standard fare, featuring a familiar star running a gamut of fearful… (more)