Directed by Alexandre Moors
A narrative feature film inspired by the events known as the Beltway sniper attacks.
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★★★★ review by Matt Singer on Letterboxd
The best horror movie of the year?
★★★½ review by Boy Roarbison [fka Nag Champion] on Letterboxd
Superbly acted character study that chooses [for better or worse] to focus on the relationship between the menacing father figure and his young quasi-adoptive accomplice, and what led up to them embarking on their spree of terror that rocked the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area in the summer of 2002, rather than the actual killings themselves. Isaiah Washington is captivating on-screen as he broods his way into the psyche of a teenage boy he lifted out of poverty in the Caribbean, convincing him that what they are doing is just. Some solid supporting performances by Tim Blake Nelson and Joey Lauren Adams, as well as newcomer Tequan Richmond. What it lacks in pacing and substance it mostly gains back with inspired acting and its ominous mood & tone, aided in large part by a perfect score from Colin Stetson [who was made for a project like this].
★★★★ review by bbbgtoby on Letterboxd
A fascinating and terrifying character study of two killers, Isaiah Washington in the perfect role for his intense brand of performance and youngster Tequan Richmond brooding his way through his first real movie gig, of the grooming of one by the other and the driving on of each other as their incomprehensibly despicable plan comes to fruition.
Director Alexandre Moors takes a slow, thoughtful approach to his material, somewhat akin to Van Sant's Elephant but with much more substance, to what could easily be a sensationalist piece of cinema in the wrong hands. Artful visuals and a sound design that uses silence and white noise in addition to the score, accentuate the claustrophobic mood of the piece and impress upon the viewer the nature of the evil that grows between the two men.
One of the best films of the year.
★★★★ review by Matthew on Letterboxd
It took two viewings to truly appreciate, but Blue Caprice is a stoic, sometimes silent look into the mind of an increasingly desperate mad man. Based on the events surrounding the Beltway Sniper killings a little over a decade ago, we watch as ex-military John Muhammad descends into an inescapable hole of paranoia and madness. With him is a teenage accomplice, the (not legally) adopted orphan John Malvo, who through ritualistic military training and indoctrination becomes as bitter and violent as his adopted father.
The two travel across the country to several locations through Muhammad's friendships and former military associations, with each stop throwing the duo further into the darkness, until Muhammad eventually begins to inspire Malvo to commit murder on his behalf. The movie hits high-gear with the murder of Muhammad's ex-wife with whom he had a restraining order, and proceeding through the next several weeks of terrifying violence from rifle shots out of the back of the now infamous Blue Caprice.
If you remember the terror set upon the greater D.C. and Northern Virginia area in 2002 or even if you don't, Blue Caprice is a chilling -- if sometimes distant -- portrayal of true crime and domestic terrorism in the modern age.
★★★★ review by Scott Anderson on Letterboxd
I remember how terrifying it was when the seemingly random and baffling murders of everyday people occurred during October 2002 in the region of the United States made up of Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C., known as the beltway, their deaths coming at quiet moments of normalcy at the hands of someone with a sniper rifle. As I reside in Illinois, I wasn't near the chaos and fear that stopped people from doing simple things like going shopping or pumping gas, but it still had an effect on me mentally, taking a moment each day to consider how fragile life really was. The film Blue Caprice tells the story of those that took those innocent lives, a man named John Allen Muhammad and his young protege Lee Boyd Malvo, focusing more on the development of their relationship and the troubling way an evil mind can essentially be created by an influential source.
A highly impressive film by first time screenwriter and director Alexandre Moors, the real life subjects that fill the frames are fascinating because we want to learn more in terms of a motive that was never fully fleshed out after these murders, but Moors doesn't attempt to provide it for us because the answer simply may not be there. Blue Caprice is a film that tells a specific story but really it has a much broader message to portray, that being the fact that pure evil can be so frighteningly absurd, lacking any sense of logic or reason for why people lose their lives at times like this. The question that is always raised immediately after one of the mass murders that seem to occur far too often in America is "Why?". Sometimes a reason is provided, one that is never understandable and typically disturbing because of how unimportant it might seem to a normal person, like being rejected by a girl or an argument on Facebook, but a reason none the less. However, every so often a tragedy seems to be void of any reason at all, and when the question "Why?" is asked, evil looks back at them and answers "Why not?"
The atmosphere of Blue Caprice worked because of its constant sense of quiet and calm despite the story revolving around chaos. Isaiah Washington plays Muhammad with nuance, an eerie confidence and clear hatred for others yet he is able to appear socially normal and sometimes even charming. Tequan Richmond fills the role of Malvo, a young man in search of guidance and a father figure and he unfortunately finds these things in Muhammad, essentially allowing himself to be brainwashed by a nonsensical message of hate. The film takes the time to build up their connection and lead us completely down the path of how the shootings came to be rather than rush any characters and relationship development in order to focus on the carnage.
I have noticed that audience ratings for this film seem a bit low, much to my surprise. I found the storytelling choices to be excellent as the mood of these men and their plan seeped into my skin and shook me, leaving me still searching for answers to any questions I had regarding the attacks but in the end that's the point: the answers simply aren't there. John Allen Muhammad wanted to kill as many people as possible to send a message, but what that message was remains a mystery, and with the capital punishment sentence since carried out after his capture we will never fully know what resided inside his mind. His targets? Absolutely anyone standing where their gun was pointed, no rhyme or reason for the choice.
Scary, isn't it?
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