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Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer (2010)

Anchor Bay Entertainment
DVD Released: 6/28/2011

All Ratings out of




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/27/2011

Sometime in the summer of 1989, I was visiting my favorite book store (a very unique place which sadly closed a few years later) and the shopkeeper recommended Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs. I'm usually not one to take advice, but I bought the book and loved it. When a film adaptation of the novel was released two years later, I was skeptical, but it was an impressive and successful movie. So impressive and successful in fact that it created a new sub-genre -- the serial killer movie. And today, 20 years later, we are still feeling the effects of The Silence of the Lambs. The problem is that most of these movies totally miss the point and aren't very good. The latest example is Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer.

Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer opens by introducing us to Maria Sanchez (Danielle Harris), a reporter for the television show Last Steps. Last Steps focuses on bloody and violent crimes. Maria is searching for evidence of "The County Line Cannibal", a serial killer who is said to have claimed over 200 victims. She is contacted by a man named Emmet (Lance Henriksen), who claims to have information about the murders. So, Maria and her cameraman, Tom (Tony Yalda), visit Emmet, who begins to tell them the story of Cyrus. Emmet states that Cyrus (played by Wylie Allen) have moved to the area with his new wife, Vicky (Anne Leighton), but their marriage was very rocky. Unable to make it as a farmer, Cyrus opened a gas station with a small grill. His burgers, called "Roadkill", were an overnight success. However, Cyrus told the town that his wife ran off with the man who sold him the kitchen equipment. In reality, he had killed the pair, and this unlocked a monster within Cyrus. As the years passed, Cyrus (now played by Brian Krause), continued to crank out his "Roadkill" burgers, and he also had a habit of trapping and killing travelers. This tale is much darker and realistic than Maria had bargained for and she is unnerved by the amount of detailed information which Emmet possesses.

I guess if you live in New York or Los Angeles, celebrity sightings aren't that big of a deal. However, growing up in the Southeast, they are to me. Sometime around 1993, I was in a local record store and spotted Brian Krause. As a fan of Sleepwalkers (apparently, one of the few fans of that movie), I thought that this was pretty cool, and I've checked in on his career every now and then since. So, what is he doing appearing in bargain-basement junk like this. As a matter of fact, what is Lance Henriksen and the lady who plays the lawyer on Bones doing in this movie? (Going further, what is the mom from Zach and Cody doing here?)

Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer is yet another bastard son of Thomas Harris, as, as the title implies, it tries to get inside the head of a serial killer and explain why they do what they do. Except, this one doesn't do a very good job of that. We learn that Cyrus' mother wasn't a very respectable woman and that his wife's infidelity caused him to snap...and that's about it. When we first meet Cyrus in the flashbacks, he seems like a happy, normal guy who just happened to make a bad real estate deal by buying a farm despite the fact that he had no farming background. And this caused him to go cocoa-bananas? We then get the stereotypical, "he was able to run a business and no one knew that he was a killer" act which we've seen in hundreds of these movies.

But, Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer goes all of the Silence of the Lambs clones one better by throwing in a liberal amount of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. The fact that people come from miles around to sample Cyrus' "Roadkill" burgers is lifted directly from that Tobe Hooper film and if you are surprised by the revelation of what Cyrus' secret ingredient is, then I can only assume that this is the first movie that you've ever watched. Cyrus keeping his victims locked in dog cages brings the movie Midnight to mind, and nothing should do that.

Speaking of plot twists, my wife doesn't fancy herself to be a writer (although she has dabbled), but she would apparently make a great script doctor, as she can predict the twist in any movie. I didn't need her with me to guess the ending of Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer. I can't remember the last time that I saw a movie with such a lame and telegraphed finale. This is only compounded by the fact that Emmett can't explain the incredibly elaborate booby trap Cyrus operates. The movie then becomes confounding when the end credits are capped off with quotes from real serial killers. Are we suddenly supposed to take all of this seriously? Lazy, derivative, and predictable, Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer murdered my hopes for ever seeing a good serial killer movie again.

Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer challenges my definition of small bone on DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The movie was obviously shot on high-end video (but I can't be certain that it was HD, as it has a camcordery look at times) and the image is sharp and clear. There is no overt grain here and there are no defects from the source material. The colors look OK, but the picture is very dark at times. It's difficult to tell what is happening on some of the night-time shots. There are also some issues with lights, as they show a "blown-out" look at times. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track provides fairly good sound. The car chase scene has some presence, as the surround sound and stereo effects are pretty good. The attack scenes provide moderate subwoofer effects.

The Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer DVD contains only two extras. "Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer -- Behind the Scenes" (21 minutes) contains comments from Writer/Director Mark Vadik and the cast. They discuss how they got involved in the project, and Vadik talks about where the idea for the movie came from. We then get a close look at how the special effects makeup were done. (It's nice to see old-fashioned latex, as opposed to CGI.) The only other extra on the DVD is a TRAILER for the movie.

Review by Mike Long.  Copyright 2011.