A whodunit revolving around a group of 10 strangers who find themselves running from a desert storm. They hole up in a roadside motel that proves as hospitable as the Bates Motel. The patrons are killed, one by one, and the survivors must try to figure out who the killer is before they, too, check out... permanently! Stars John Cusack (upcoming The Runaway Jury, Americas Sweethearts), Ray Liotta (Narc, Hannibal, Unlawful Entry), Rebecca DeMornay (The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Never Talk to Strangers), Jake Busey (Tomcats, Starship Troopers), Amanda Peet (upcoming The Whole Ten Yards, High Crimes), Alfred Molina (Frida, Chocolat), John C. McGinley (Stealing Harvard, The Animal, TVs Scrubs), Directed by James Mangold (Kate & Leopold, Girl, Interrupted, Cop Land).
DVD features are not quite as enticing as they sound. Of chief interest is the extended branched version of the film (available in widescreen only), but there's only one added scene (an interesting but not critical minute-long sequence that would have been the first conference-room scene), and the differences in the alternate ending are so subtle that you'll miss them if you literally blink a few times. There's no question it could affect audience perception, but unlike most alternate endings, it doesn't affect the actual outcome. (See spoiler for more information.) The four deleted scenes (which don't include either of the above-mentioned additions) aren't that exciting, and the optional director commentary notes that these deletions generally served to cut moments of character and comic relief in favor of moving the story along, which is one reason the film runs a brisk 90 minutes. James Mangold's director commentary on the feature is good, though, as he discusses such matters as the logistics of the perpetual downpour and a crucial bit of dialogue removed from the film's climax. Considering that downpour and the contrasting darks and lights of the film, picture quality is good, and the thunder claps sound great in 5.1 sound so there are no complaints about the DVD's presentation of the film itself. --David Horiuchi