12 Steps to Death D
Joe Queenan, better known as a humorist journalist and writer, makes his directorial debut in 12 Steps to Death, a slight, undernourished deconstruction of the detective movie genre that's always politically incorrect but only intermittently funny. In its current state, theatrical prospects for amateurish, non-budget exercise are rather slim.
Queenan plays Turk Bishop, a former LAPD detective, now living in a quiet and peaceful Wisconsin burb. Tale begins at the office of a nasty, cynical shrink, who has a knack of offending and humiliating his patients by telling them the harsh truth about their gambling and sexual addictions. First scene ends when a big, fat woman leaves his office in anger, wishing him “to die a slow, painful death.”
Indeed, in the next scene, the psychiatrist finds his death when he's pushed atop the roof of a castle. Called to resolve the murder of the region's sole shrink, the detective soon realizes that everybody in town is a suspect, from the therapist's problematic patients to his very own obnoxious children.
Deconstructing the popular murder-mystery genre to its bare bones, Queenan finds some fresh wit and drollery in familiar, clichd situations. However, the film looks and sounds too stagy and self-conscious. The deadpan, offbeat banter might be work more effectively on stage, but it seems too pat, calculated and theatrical when viewed onscreen in close-up, which is how most of the dialogue scenes are shot.
Deliberately draining the dialogue out of its potential emotions, the actors appear to be reading their lines like monotones, a strategy that is humorous for a short, but not for a feature-length movie. Technical credits of non-budgeter are on the raw side.
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