Sylvester Stallone’s new movie, D-Tox is a combination Ten Little Indians and a Slasher movie. A Ten Little Indians movie shares a lot of the conventions of a Last Stand In a Haunted House film, but with one major difference: the “thing” that is killing the trapped characters is very much human. D-Tox has not been released theatrically in the States as of this review, so I am going under the assumption that this latest Stallone film has fallen into Direct-to-Video hell.
D-Tox stars former muscleman Sylvester Stallone as Malloy, a FBI agent who is hunting a serial killer preying on cops. When the killer decides to make the hunt personal and murders Malloy’s fianc’e (Dina Meyer), Malloy’s life crumbles, and he falls into the bottle. After a failed suicide attempt, Malloy’s partner, Chuck (Charles Dutton) packs up their things and takes Malloy to a d-tox center in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming. The center is run by Mitchell (Kris Kristofferson), an ex-cop who has set up the d-tox center to help clean up other burnt out cops. No sooner than Malloy arrives at the d-tox center does it becomes clear not everyone there is who they say they are, and in fact the serial killer who had killed Malloy’s fianc’e has followed him to the d-tox center to finish the job…
There are a lot of inherent problems with D-Tox, one of which involves the d-tox center itself. We are asked to believe that ex-cop Mitchell is rich enough to purchase what used to be a government missile silo and turn it into a hospital for paranoid cops. Even if I could accept the belief that Mitchell had that much money on hand, I can’t help but wonder how he could afford to keep the silo/d-tox center open with just 10 cops as patients per year? What are these cops paying him, $50,000 a head? And if the cops themselves aren’t paying, who is? Would a police department spend all that money just to help one cop out of thousands clear his head? I doubt it.
The above problem aside, D-Tox is a highly predictable and generic film. One of the movie’s biggest faults is the motivation for the killer. Early on, the killer tells Malloy that he’s killing cops because Malloy ruined his (the killer’s) killing spree of prostitutes 4 years earlier. Why in the world was he killing prostitutes 4 years ago in the first place? And why doesn’t he just go back to killing prostitutes instead of killing cops? There is very little motivation for why the killer does what he does, and the killer himself, once revealed, proves to be incredibly annoying. And not annoying in the he-might-get-you way, but in the God-will-he-just-shut-up-already variety.
Without a properly written bad guy, the good guy’s crusade has no resonance. Of course, once the killer murders Malloy’s wife, Malloy now has a personal vendetta — but why in the world did the killer continue to follow Malloy to the d-tox center? Just to torment him?
Then there are the cops at the d-tox center. There’s a loudmouth SWAT cop, a paranoid undercover Narc, and Slater (Christopher Fulford), some kind of cop from overseas. As expected, no one gets a lot of attention or development besides the cursory “surface” personalities, so once the cops start getting bumped off, it’s quite difficult to even keep their names in order. What passes for dialogue between the patients involves them verbally abusing and trying to psyche each other out only to have the hospital staff interject with a, “That’s enough!” to break up the love fest. This happened about a half dozen times throughout the movie. Needless to say, it’s obvious whom the movie must kill off. Bye bye, SWAT boy.
As is the case with all Slasher movies, the killer in D-Tox possesses superhuman speed. The man can move at the speed of light, or at least it seems so. The movie also racks up an astounding bodycount, but unfortunately not a single one of them matters because the people biting the bullet are cardboard cutouts.
Another staple of Slasher movies is idiotic character decisions, and our rough and tumble cops, as well as the hospital staff, are all determined to split up at the first possible chance. This, mind you, with a killer stalking them through the hospital’s small and darkly lit corridors. The most eye-rolling example of this stupidity is towards the end, when Polly Walker, playing Stallone’s obligatory love interest Jenny, wanders to “find him”. Of course we know the real reason why the filmmakers had her going out there: it’s so Stallone can save her from suffering the same fate as his fianc’e, thus allowing our hero to redeem himself. Humbug.
D-Tox is, at best, an average Slasher film. Stallone does a good job in his role as the down-and-out cop, and he is actually the movie’s only bright spot. Stallone doesn’t do a lot of heavy lifting here, but he does show off good thespian skills. If there is one other positive, it’s that it’s quite difficult to figure out who the killer is, since the movie goes beyond the call of duty to make everyone a potential suspect.
Unfortunately the film has zero scares, very little tension, and very weak kill scenes. And as everyone knows, uncreative kill scenes are the kiss of death for any Slasher movie. If you’re not going to make the movie original or exciting, at least put some effort into the blood and guts to entertain us for a while.
Jim Gillespie (director) / Howard Swindle, Ron L. Brinkerhoff (screenplay)
CAST: Sylvester Stallone …. Jake Malloy
Charles Dutton …. Chuck Hendricks
Polly Walker …. Jenny Munroe
Tom Berenger …. Hank
Sean Patrick Flanery …. Connor
Kris Kristofferson …. Dr. John Mitchell