This movie is bizarre, to say the least. The most bizarre aspect being that Kevin Costner makes a really convincing serial killer, still hunky but total creep in this movie. He plays affluent, successful Earl Brooks by day, the Thumbprint Killer by night. We meet Brooks during a period of dormancy, he attends 12 step meetings to curb his addiction to killing. Unfortunately, he can’t fight his alter personality forever and breaks into an apartment to murder a couple. He is meticulous about cleaning up the crime scene and destroying evidence but didn’t account for the couple’s blinds being open and exposing him to potential witnesses. Turns out that someone did see him and this person, Mister Smith blackmails Brooks into training him to be his protege.
In the midst of all this, Brooks’ daughter drops out of college and comes home after someone in her dorm was murdered. When detectives show up to question her, Brooks realizes that she must be like him and probably killed the college student. He then travels to her college to murder another student to make it look like someone else must have committed the murders. After the fresh murders, the Thumbprint Killer case is back open and a tenacious new detective is on the case who Brooks seemingly becomes enamored with, Detective Atwood. He does some research into her background and finds out that she’s going through a divorce, he decides that her husband and attorney will be his protege’s first victims. I didn’t totally get his part, did he want to frame the bitter ex-wife for the murder? Did he respect her so much that he wanted to do her favor? Anyway, Smith blows it and pees himself at the scene of the crime. Later on, he is convicted as the Thumbprint Killer and Brooks goes back to leading his normal life with a pregnant, potential serial murderer daughter at home. In the closing scenes, Brooks has a nightmare where Jane murders him and he is gripped with the fear that she will suffer from an inherited urge to kill.
It’s a slow burn of a thriller, depicting serial killing as an addiction was an interesting dynamic that most serial killer movies don’t explore. It’s a really well-acted film, even though he’s kind of a creep, I was glad Brooks got off so that he could be at home for his daughter and grand kid. Is that weird? It’s an interesting film that strays a bit from the typical serial killer ethos.