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TAKING LIVES

movie trailer (apple.com - quicktime)

NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Buck Thighmaster who says... "This was a very solid murder thriller, definitely comparable to Seven, though not quite as good, also very similar in it's gritty realism style. It's heavy on the disturbing details, much like Seven, so keep weak stomachs in check if you decide to see it. The acting is very solid and fairly low-key all around, even in the slightly predictable moments. The story is very nicely balanced until about nine-tenths of the way through, where the movie-makers back themselves into a corner, leading to a surprising but still weak ending."

We open in 1983 somewhere in southern Quebec or Ontario, even though it feels more like 1978, with a slightly shy looking, feathery-haired teenager with glasses, who's buying a bus ticket at a rural bus station. He looks about 19. As he does so he nervously eyes another teenager in the bus station - a charismatic looking young loner, with a crew-cut, knapsack and guitar. Finally our shy boy pays the impatient clerk with money from a well-padded envelope.

On the bus, the young man sits alone until the charismatic Justin invites himself to sit beside him, to the other's seeming delight. Justin was tired of sitting beside a snorer in his previous seat, and offers the shy boy a can of beer. They toast each other, then the bus breaks down on a rural road amongst farmers' fields. Justin curses - the last bus he was on broke down and it took 8 hrs for a fix. The shy boy looks out the window across the fields to a nearby barn, which advertises car repairs and rentals.

At the dilapidated rental garage the owner scoffs at taking a credit card number from Justin (his father's) but the shy boy slips out his envelope and pays cash for the deposit and rental. He'll drive, since Justin's license is suspended. The two are soon tooling down the rural highway, sipping beers while Justing regales the driver with his history. Justin has just hopped the wall at a military school, where he was sent after getting into a fight with his stepfather. Justin pulls out his guitar and sings a decent tune as they drive. The shy boy runs over a piece of metal in the road and a tire blows, so they pull over.

The shy boy confesses his lack of car skills, so Justin pulls out the jack and tire iron and sets to work, kneeling well into the roadway because the tire is the front left. The shy boy watches a Suburban approach from the distance. There's nothing else in sight but green farmers' fields. He makes the non sequitar comment that he and Justin are almost exactly the same height. Justin looks at him oddly, then goes back to work on the tire. As the truck passes, the shy boy suddenly kicks Justin into it's path. The truck hits Justin, slews, then flips over and crashes badly. The shy boy looks simulaneously scared and thrilled.

He walks over the to the upside down truck - the driver is badly hurt, bleeding heavily, possibly dead. He looks at the blood. He walks back up the road to Justin, who lies in the middle of the rural highway, body broken and bleeding, but he still gasps for breath. The shy boy kneels gently beside him and shushes Justin softly, like a lover, or a parent. He pulls out Justin's wallet, looks through it briefly, then he picks up a sharp rock and bashes Justins face in.

A few hours later the light in dimming, the sun setting, as a boy strides easily through the green fields, far away from the roadway. He has long feathery hair but he doesn't wear glasses. He carries a guitar and knapsack and walks confidently as he sings to himself. He could almost be mistaken for Justin.

The credits kick in, working hard to establish a dark tone to this thriller, much like the feeling Seven had. There are alternating shots of case file details from autopses, taken from microfiche mostly, mixed with darkened camera shots of a man altering his appearence. Putting in coloured contacts, dying his hair lighter, thinning hair on his arms and legs, shaving the darker hair off his knuckles, trying on false teeth.

Twenty years later, current day, an older woman pushes her way through the crowd on a ferry. She's obviously nervous, but not in dealing with the people around her, who she doesn't hesitate to push imperiously out of her way. Once off the ferry she makes for a nearby patio cafe, where she sees a Quebec police officer having a coffee. She asks for help - she's just seen her dead son.

Soon, in an inspector's office, Mrs. Asher (Gena Rowlands) explains further. She's obviously into her sixties, dressed very properly but conservatively, but is heavily made up and her hair is dyed yellow-blonde. There's also a creepy strength to this woman - you might mug her in a dark alley, but she wouldn't hesitate to cut your eyes out with a penknife if you let down your guard. She smokes as she explains to the inspector that her son, Martin, was declared dead in a car accident 20 years earlier, but she's certain she saw him on the ferry. He looked different, of course, but Mrs. Asher recognized his eyes. She can see the doubt in the inspector's face, but she's certain it was him and she's very concerned. Mrs. Asher says her son was, or is, a very dangerous man.

At a construction site a backhoe pulls dirt out of a pit. After a few strokes it pulls up a scoop that contains not just dirt, but a dessicated, partially decomposed and mummified body, still wearing relatively current clothing. The backhoe driver peers at it with distinct indifference. He must moonlight in a graveyard.

At the Montreal police station Detective Paquette (Olivier Martinez) complains to his partner, Duval, about their boss bringing in an outside FBI specialist on the case. The boss, Inspector Leclair (Tcheky Karyo), emerges from his office and points out that they have no leads, not even a victim's name, and he doesn't want any more complaining. Paquette calls the airport, but the FBI agent didn't meet the police escort. They find Agent Illeana Scott (Angelina Jolie) lying on her back in the pit where the body was found. The detectives are unimpressed, but Leclair looks both pleased and unsurprised.

Scott tells them what she's figured out so far.

Forensic excavation was able to determine the shape of the hole the body was buried in - it was a perfect rectangle, just big long enough for the 5'11" victim. Scott points our the nearby bike path and the long posted construction signs. The killer stalked his victim, knowing his personal characteristics and where he could ambush him. Plus, he wanted the body to be found since he buried it in an area already marked for construction. The body was missing it's hands, and the face was bashed in, which Scott suspects were acts the killer enjoys for their intimacy and immediacy, not just because they make identification so much harder.

Back at the police forensic lab Scott inspects the corpse for herself, not coming up with any new details, though it's obvious she isn't at all uncomfortable with the body. The detectives tell her that a facial reconstruction artist is working on a facial re-creation. Leclair drops her off at her hotel, they are obviously old acquaintances and mutually respected colleagues.

In her hotel room Scott continues to read over the case files, mostly details of the autopsy. She posts pictures of the corpse to chair-backs and studies them while she eats meals. She posts photos on the canopy of the bed so she can stare up at them while she goes to sleep and wakes. While this goes on we get glimpses of the artist at work on the facial reconstruction. The result is a reasonably handsome youngish caucasian male of european descent, with dark hair. Somewhat generic, no truly distinguishing characteristics.

Scott comes to the police headquarters, where they've brought in a witness/suspect to another murder that has just been committed in a health club parking lot. The victim's face was partially bashed in after he was killed with a home-made garrote, but his hand's weren't cut off. Paquette is interrogating Costa, who was discovered trying to perform CPR on the victim.

Costa (Ethan Hawke) describes the killer's eyes as very bright and intense, but can't give a great description of his clothes. After being interrupted the killer pointed a gun at Costa, then ran off. Paquette leaves the interrogation room to discuss Costa with Leclair and the others in the adjoining observation room. He can't get a read on Costa, who comes across as genuinely distraught but too defensive, almost anticipating any probing questions or suspicion on Paquette's part.

Costa's an art dealer, and professes some artistic skill, so Scott takes a blank pad into interrogation so he can draw the suspect he saw. Scott then tries a few different tricks to see how Costa reacts; fanning pictures of the victim out on the table, dropping the garrotte on the floor, then exiting the room but leaving Costa's file on the table. Costa sees through these tricks as an attempt to get his reaction, but seems genuinely upset at seeing the details of the crime again. He doesn't attempt to look at his file while Scott watches through the glass, explaining to the others that a psychopath would normally not be bothered by gory details, and would likely be unable to resist trying to find out what information they had on him.

Having decided that Costa's in the clear, the interrogation ends, with Paquette attempting to intimidate Scott in the squad room afterwards, declaring that he wasn't impressed by her tricks. Costa neatly extricates her from this delicate situation, but doesn't push himself on Scott at all, claiming that growing up with his sisters imbued him with a sense for when women are uncomfortable. The police take Costa home, setting a watch on his loft and gallery.

Costa works on framing pictures in his gallery, while the police observe, still not sure if he might be the killer, or bait for the killer. Costa goes out in the rain to pick up food and discovers Scott working over the case details in the nearby cafe, keeping her own watch on him. They talk briefly, he's got an important show coming up, and there's a certain chemistry between them. Costa comes across as genuinely nervous but still charming, and is gentlemanly enough not too press at Scott at all. She gives him her cell phone number in case he thinks of something.

The next day Agent Scott meets Duval and Paquette for breakfast. They've discovered the identity of the health club victim, as well as the original body Scott was called in about. Both were young men, loners with few friends and jobs or interests that kept them apart from others; one was a diver whose sister reported him missing. Both victims credit cards were used after their deaths - the police are still looking into the financial details.

Paquette makes rude jokes about women to Duval in French while Scott discusses the case and Duval tries to be professional and ignore his partner. The trio get a call that a landlord has identified the sketch that Costa drew. Paquette wants to finish breakfast but Scott just slaps down some victim photos, ruining his mood.

At the rooming house the greasy landlord recognizes the sketch, a bearded, shaggy haired man, as someone who rented a room for 3 months, paying in advance, and who also has an outstanding phone bill. The landlord hasn't seen him since the rental. Paquette takes the landlord off to find the phone bill while Scott and Duval take the room keys.

They crack the door and are immediately on the defense due to the strange odour and distinctive sound of a 'seal' breaking. We switch to a view inside the apartment - the inside of the door is covered in heavy plastic, and packing tape sealed all the surrounding cracks. The two slowly enter the dim apartment with guns drawn. There are old wooden filing cabinets in the apartment, in various sizes, scattered through the various rooms - we don't see the contents. The drawers look meant to hold specimens, rather than paperwork. Cheap laboratory shelving also clutters the walls and space, populated with glass beakers and other lab-ware. Does the killer support himself with a meth lab?

In the next room, the kitchen, Scott finds the remains of a pizza growing moldy on the table, along with a wallet and some personal effects, looking to be from a victim. There are also several small figures scattered on the table, sculpted from plastic-wire twist ties.

The shower is running in the bathroom, but when Duval goes in, backed by Scott, he discovers the water spraying on a tub empty but for an impressive collection of urinal pucks. Apparently meant to cover any odours from the apartment. The two fan out to look around some more. In the bedroom Scott notices a damaged fiber panel in the drop ceiling and climbs on the mussed bed to investigate.

Lifting the panel she discovers a beaten paper bag, which she hands down to a newly arrived Duval. He empties it on the bed while she looks for more. It appears to contain the entire collection for someone's identity - wallet, various i.d.'s, handkerchief, a couple pocket trinkets...and a moldy finger with a class ring still on it. Scott is just tall enough to see a pizza box also hidden up there and rummages around, trying to get a grasp on it. Her efforts dislodge another abused corpse, which drops down almost on her head and hangs in mid-air from the chains that suspended it hidden above the ceiling. Scott and Duval recover from their collective heart attacks.

In the hallway later the three detectives discuss the case while forensic officers go into the apartment. Among the phone calls were several attempted to Mrs. Asher's number, whose earlier report on her son's state of living has been dug up by the police.

They drive out to Mrs. Asher's large, traditional stone house in the country south of Montreal, near the river. Scott goes into the house to interview her alone, after trading insults with Paquette in French, much to his chagrin.

Being interviewed in her traditional, conservative living room, Mrs. Asher once again comes across as very concerned, but also dominating and strangely creepy.

She reiterates her belief in how dangerous her son is, though she doesn't elaborate on why she thinks so. She may have been mistaken about Martin's death years ago, as she was very upset when called to identify the body.

It turns out Martin Asher was a twin, whose brother was named Reese, and Reese is described by his mother as having been wonderful and charismatic. There are many pictures on the mantelpiece over the fireplace, but they are all of only a solitary boy. Mrs. Asher admits that they are all of Reese - there's only one picture of Martin. Turns out Reese is dead - he died while rafting on the river with his brother while they were both still young, looks like under 12. They both fell in the water, but only one made it to shore.

Mrs. Asher seems to be noticeably spare on real details about Martin, other than the fact he stole her jewelry and took off at age 19, leading to the supposed car accident. Scott goes to leave, but at the door realizes she 'left' her case in living room. The mother isn't having any of it, and sternly tells Scott to wait while she goes back to get it herself. While forced to wait Agent Scott notices a soft breeze that seems to issue from behind a bookcase.

The entire interview has struck not just the audience but also Scott as suspicious and she and the detectives immediately make plans to have Reese Asher's body exhumed. The resulting autopsy only confuses things further.

Reese Asher's medical records indicate that he broke his arm when young. The skeleton from Reese's grave has perfectly clean arm bones, but evidence of previously broken ribs, facial bones, and other old injuries. Is this Reese? Martin? Who?

Mrs. Asher is moved into a hotel in the city for her own protection. Her personality is again revealed when she talks Leclair into putting her up in a ritzy downtown hotel, basically by refusing to accept less. Scott takes the opportunity to 'unofficially' break into her house and snoop around.

The bookcase conceals a stairway into a dusty basement scattered with discarded furniture and old tools. Scott discovers a small, abused doorway in one corner with a lock on it, which opens into a small, low-ceilinged cell of a bedroom. Inside an old beaten teddybear hangs from a noose tied to the ceiling, lit by a very small above-ground window. There is a small cot with a cheap straw mattress and a single blanket on it. At the far end of the room is a small shelf with several little sculpted figures on it, crafted out of slivers of cardboard. The most carefully crafted figure appears crouched, as if stalking prey.

Scott lies down on the cot to get a feel for the place and notices a name carved into the beam not far above her - Martin, surrounded by wave symbols. Suddenly an arm bursts through the cheap mattress and grabs Scott across the chest. She rolls onto the floor as a man scrambles out from underneath the cot. There is a brief anonymous struggle while she tries to simultaneously trip the attacker, draw her gun, and get to her feet, but she falls back and stuns herself against the wall while he manages to get up and scramble out of the room. Afterwards the police determine he broke in through a second floor window. Was it Martin?

Recovering with a bath back in her hotel suite, Scott spills a number of the case files onto the floor and comes to a realization when several of the victim photos line up next to each other. Despite the generality of all the victims - assorted young white males with darkish hair - there is also a distinct similarity and progression to them. She calls an early detective meeting for the next morning.

By then she's managed to put together a timeline showing 'Martin' Asher's activities over the last two decades, highlighting his first couple of murders and the latest few, with a number of blanks in the middle. All the murders overlap, coming 3-18 months apart, with proof that someone was using the victims identities after their death. They've even figured out that Martin paid one victim's taxes while inhabiting his identity. Scott describes Martin as a hermit crab - he was the un-favoured child, always in the shadow of his brother, dis-liked by his domineering mother, and as a result can't stand his own identity. He constantly takes over other peoples' lives, simply so he doesn't have to be himself, leaving each one behind as it becomes boring, inconvenient, or too familiar. The police have also dug up 19 unsolved murders with similar circumstances to cover the blanks in the middle of the timeline.

They've got a bead on their killer now, but as a result know that more murders are inevitable and he's been clever enough to get away with it continuously for twenty years.

Someone breaks into Costa's gallery while he's out, but nothing is missing except his day-timer. The detectives think this might mean the killer thinks to both eliminate Costa as a witness and take him as a new identity. Scott notices a meeting Costa has scheduled the next evening with a new client whose name is similar to that of one of the victims. The detectives , particularly Scott, convince a reluctant Costa to keep the meeting, in a crowded bar, while wearing a wire. He'll be on his own because of the crowd, and the detectives will have to wait outside listening.

Costa waits nervously, but no one shows at the appointed time. While Costa looks around in agitation, someone slips a note under his drink, telling him to meet in the men's room. Costa mentions this into the wire, but the crowd noise keeps it from getting through to the detectives listening in the van. In the bathroom Costa fearfully checks the stalls before Paquette suddenly comes in - it was his note. They're calling off the setup.

Scott drives Costa home, and there's an undeniable chemistry between them, though both are hesitant. Costa seems bright enough to realize the inappropriateness of hitting on a detective who's investigating you, while Scott tries to maintain her professionalism. A police officer comes to the car to escort Costa to his building, while a blonde man (Keifer Sutherland)observes from the entranceway of a nearby apartment building, before going in.

Scott talks to Leclair, suggesting she withdraw from the case. Her judgement may be clouded because of her attraction to Costa. Leclair convinces her to stay with it - he needs her skills and trusts her professionalism.

The next night is the gallery show. Paquette is unimpressed with the art, Duval scarfs hors doevres like he can't afford to eat, and Scott scans the crowd. Costa approaches her briefly and gives her some water to drink so she'll blend into the crowd better, points out a favourite work of his, then goes back to working his clients.

The blonde man makes his way through the crowd, checking out the paintings. He catches Scott's eye - there a certain determination about him. Blondie leans against a pillar and catches Costa's eye with a wave. Costa is startled and looks to Scott, who's already moving. Paquette, cueing off Scott, pulls his gun and goes after the blonde man. Blondie sees the opposition and takes off across the gallery, grabbing a man from the crowd and using him as a battering ram to break through a plate glass window.

Outside the Montreal jazz festival, a huge event, is in full swing, so the evening streets are mobbed. Scott and Paquette chase blondie through the crowd but it's hopeless, and they soon lose him, much to their frustration. The police bunker down in Costa's loft to keep him protected, while Scott goes back to her hotel.

The next day the decision has been made to send Costa out of town - he's heading to Toronto to lay low. Scott sits in her hotel, determined to maintain her distance, but finally gets in her car to say goodbye to him before he leaves.

At Costa's loft, Duval is on his own, helping load the gallery owner's luggage into the detective's car. While Costa is packing a last few items, Blondie suddenly emerges from the kitchen, having snuck in during the back and forth confusion. He grabs Costa by the neck and declares that the art broker has something Blondie wants, which means it's his, especially with their special relationship. Costa knees Blondie and break free, scrambling across the apartment to the pistol he bought for protection when this all started. Costa's not very familiar with the gun so he fumbles loading it, but even after he manages to get the bullets in it fails to fire, while blondie gets up and approaches ominously.

Down on the street Duval hears a shout and a crash, and goes running up to the loft. Bursting through the door he finds Costa and blondie locked in a struggle on the floor.

Scott arrives downstairs and hears several quick shots as soon as she gets out of her car. She runs up to the loft and finds Duval lying on the floor with several bullet wounds to the chest. No one else is there and the back entrance is swinging wide open. She calls in the shooting, then hears a car roar away downstairs. The chase is on!

Scott jumps in her car and takes off after Costa, who appears to be driving while held at gun-point by blondie. After a quick chase through downtown Montreal traffic, it spills over onto one of the divided bridges leading out of Montreal. Scott is forced into the oncoming traffic lanes by the divider and can barely keep up. Suddenly Costa swerves his car sideways while passing a slow moving street sweeper and rams it, sending blondie through the windshield.

Scott jams on the brakes, sliding into the oncoming cars bearing down on her, then groggily runs back towards the crash. Costa has leapt out of the car with the gun and is dancing around in agitation, and looks ready to put some bullets into blondie just to make sure he's dead. Scott gets him to drop the gun, then Costa's car explodes

At the hospital Costa gets stitches for a minor wound from the accident, while Leclair thanks him for his help and Paquette fumes about his dead partner, though he doesn't blame anyone in particular. Scott says goodbye and heads to her hotel.

The case over, Scott is clambering around in a bathrobe, taking down the crime photos she had pasted up all over the suite, when there's a knock. It's Costa, fresh from the hospital. He doesn't say anything, just backs her into the suite. The sexual energy between them is exploding, now that the pressure of the investigation is over. He slips her robe open, stroking Illeana's body, while she looks at him with smoldering eyes. Then they start making love right up against the wall with all their clothing still on. Costa doesn't seem to notice the crime photos scattered all over the carpet below them. They soon fall into the bed for greater mobility. This entire love scene is brief, but charged with erotic energy and connection between the characters.

Paquette comes to the hotel desk to see Scott but her Do Not Disturb is engaged. He plays a twist tie between his fingers, then finally leaves.

In the bright morning sun Scott wakes entwined with Costa, then slips from bed and staggers into the bathroom to refresh herself. Suddenly she notices a blood stain on her cheek. She races back into the bedroom where the mattress is stained with blood and quickly grabs Costa, but he's not dead. His stitches have just torn and leaked overnight.

They go to the hospital where Leclair and Paquette are meeting Mrs. Asher to identify blondie's charred corpse, so Scott can kill two birds with one meeting. She and Costa can still barely keep their hands off each other, falling quickly into the delight of new lovers. They talk briefly about how they'll continue a long distance relationship as he gets re-stitched, before Agent Scott heads off to the autopsy room.

Mrs. Asher examines the body without a note of disgust. She looks like she might be worried about getting dirt on her gloves, but she certainly isn't bothered by the corpse of her son. When she goes to touch the face Paquette objects, but she quickly declares she'll touch anything she wants, before peeling back a burnt eyelid to get a closer look at the iris. Then she snorts in disgust, seeming to indicate that this isn't Martin Asher, and walks out. All the detectives look at each other, as convinced as the audience that this woman makes the case for an inheritable serial-killer gene. Scott goes after her, but misses the elevator, then gets a bad feeling and races it to the ground floor. Is that the killer dead on the table back there, or not?

In the elevator Costa greets his mother from the corner, where he was turned away from her. She's shocked to find him there, but doesn't appear scared. Martin (? Costa) appears nervous and slightly agitated, but Mrs. Asher does hesitate to sidle up to him, poking him in the chest and declaring that he doesn't scare her.

In the hospital lobby the elevator doors open before Illeana Scott, illuminating her new lover standing over the fresh body of Mrs. Asher...the elevator doors close. Scott sinks to her knees, almost fainting, as Paquette and Leclair catch up to her, alarmed by the way she ran off. She weakly tells them what she just saw and they furiously run off to catch the elevator. In a basement they find the elevator abandoned, Mrs. Asher's body further desecrated, while Martin's bloody clothing lies beside a staff locker pillaged for replacements.

Later that day the police are tearing Costa's loft apart. They've figured out that blondie was actually a known art thief named Hart - Martin was doing business with him after taking Costa's identity and owed Hart around $80k. The struggle and chase was faked - Martin probably killed Hart in his loft, shot Duval himself, then belted the dead Hart into the car so it looked like Costa was taken hostage. Paquette is furious and slaps Scott, and she lets it go. Everyone's now aware that 'Costa' and she spent the previous night together. That wasn't improper, because the case was officially over, but this must still be her fault because she was the expert and yet never clued into Martin's act.

In a train station Martin stands with just the clothes on his back, buying another train ticket while watching a dark-haired caucasion man about the same age struggle with the cigarette machine. Martin catches up with him as they board the train, then they share cigarettes between the train cars as they ride along the rails. Martin's obviously pumping the man for details on his life - he's an NHL scout who travels a lot - before finally ridiculing the man's personality. When the guy objects angrily Martin just smiles predatorily.

Back at the loft, Scott's cell phone rings and she's almost reluctant to answer it, while Leclair and the rest watch impatiently. Martin is slumped back into a seat in the train car, now wearing a new jacket and base-ball cap. He compliments Illeana, convinced that their relationship was real. She denies it, but Martin's certain that in her heart she was never taken in by the 'faggy art-dealer' he portrayed so convincingly, knowing all along the kindred spirit she was attracted to, someone just as intimately involved with death as she is. He crows that the best moment of his life was coming inside her, his soul mate, while surrounded by the gruesome crime scene photos.

The truth is in between of course - Illeana was actually attracted to Costa's personality, but it is likely true that underneath she somehow sensed the simultaneous connection to Martin with his shared obsessions and psychotic confidence. She hangs up on Martin, near tears. Paquette apologizes for hitting her.

The police trace the call to the train, on route to Moncton, and Leclair and Paquette take off to catch it. They arrive by helicopter at the same time as the Moncton police, but the passengers have already been let off at the station. The officers force their way through the crowd, grabbing anyone who looks similar to Martin, but soon realize it is hopeless. They've lost him.

Flash forward a few weeks and we get voice over from Agent Scott's dismissal hearing from the FBI. It's not harsh, but she's obviously tainted goods and they can't afford to have her on board any more. She empties her desk and drives away.

Seven months later Scott pulls up to a small town post office. It's winter now, she's wearing a heavy parka and driving an old pickup. She picks up her mail, including several large packages, and drives well outside of town to a desolate, dilapidated clap-board house. Going in the back door the house appears cold, barren, worn-down and harsh. Perfect place to raise a serial killer, which becomes especially true after she takes off her parka, revealing that she is hugely pregnant. Thankfully, once she gets past the back hallway the house become much more homey and inviting.

She puts on the kettle, then unboxes her packages, which turn out to be a lamp for a nursery. The nursery has two identical cribs already set up. Scott is pregnant with twins.

Going back downstairs, she finds Martin standing by the dining table, waiting for her. Scott runs for the front door but in her condition he catches her easily. He urges her tenderly back to a seat at the table then goes to get her tea. Scott reaches under the table,
but the holster she taped there is empty.

Martin notices and mentions how hurt he was, finding the gun there, as well as all the other ones he found hidden all over the house. All her defenses have been for not. Martin brings her the tea then plays with Scott, talking tenderly about how he's watched her for months, watched her belly grow, watched the nursery preparations, stalked the old farmhouse whenever she's been away. About how they can be together again now, with the babies. Scott looks very scared and declares that she was only ever attracted to Costa.

Martin slaps her, not pleased with her lack of enthusiasm, then pushes her heavily to the floor after she stands. Scott lands hard on her belly and curls protectively about it. Martin obviously won't hesitate to use her pregnancy against her, despite his supposed interest in the babies. Her urges her to her feet again, then asks her to kiss him. Scott does so but Martin still isn't satisfied by her emotion, pushing her roughly away. Then he pulls out a fresh garrotte.

Scott scrambles away but he quickly catches her with the garrotte, gently cutting off her blood supply. As Scott starts to lose consciousness she grasps weakly for some scissors, while Martin tells her that he'll only choke her unconscious, he won't kill her. He lets
up just as she manages to grab the scissors.

Martin patiently tells her to give up the scissors while Scott kneels weakly on the floor. She slashes viciously at him, but her mobility is limited and Martin easily stays out of her reach. Finally he takes a cut on the hand to grab them away and take her in a choke hold from behind.

Martin talks tenderly in her ear for a moment, talking about how they must be careful of the babies, then hardens and declares these babies will never be born. He plunges the scissors into her stomach and Scott looks about to collapse, then suddenly rears up, draws the scissors out of herself and plunges them into Martin's chest. He falls to his knees while Illeana staggers across the room to lean against a wall.

While he watches Scott reaches under her bloodless dress and pulls off a false belly, throwing it down in front of him. It was all an act to draw him in. She's been tempting him for months, playing Martin's own game against him. He falls over dead.

Scott walks past the body, which stays dead, and sits down wearily at the phone. She dials Leclair and tells him it's done. He sighs and says he'll call the FBI. Everyone was in on it.

Finis.

Those of you reading along carefully might have noticed one possibly un-answered question. Was Martin actually Reese? Did he switch identities with his brother during the drowning? Or was Mrs. Asher possibly lieing about which was the favoured child, because she was horribly abusing the other? Your guess is as good as mine. Luckily in the end it's pretty
much moot.

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