We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
"Color of Night" approaches badness from so many directions that one really must admire its imagination. Combining all the worst ingredients of an Agatha Christie whodunit and a sex-crazed slasher film, it ends in a frenzy of recycled thriller elements, with a chase scene, a showdown in an echoing warehouse, and not one but two cliches from Ebert's Little Movie Glossary: The Talking Killer and the Climbing Villain. I am compelled to admit that the use of the high-powered industrial staple gun is original.
The film stars Bruce Willis as an East Coast psychologist who loses his faith in analysis after he talks tough to a patient and she hurls herself through the window of his skyscraper office, falling to the ground far below in the best suicide effect since "Hudsucker Proxy." (The pool of bright red blood under her turns black, as Willis develops psychosomatic color blindness right on the spot.) Desperate for a change, Willis heads for Los Angeles, where his best friend (Scott Bakula) has a psychiatric practice that finances a luxurious lifestyle. He is a guest one night at a group therapy session run by the friend. The group is an updated, kinky version of one of those collections of eccentrics so beloved by Dame Agatha, who in plot exercises like "The Mousetrap" introduced a roomful of weirdos so that all of them could have their turn at being the Obvious Suspect.
In no time at all a suspect is required: Willis' friend is found murdered in his highsecurity mansion, and of course there is a reason why each member of the group seems guilty. The group includes Sondra (Lesley Ann Warren), a nymphomaniac with a nervous giggle and a careless neckline; Clark (Brad Dourif), who lost his job at a law firm after he started compulsively counting everything; Buck (Lance Henrickson), an ex-cop who foams at the mouth with anger at the least provocation; Casey (Kevin J. O'Connor), a neurotic artist, and Ricky, a young man with a gender identity problem, of whom the less said the better.
Willis, who wants to retire from psychology, takes over the group at the urging of Martinez, the detective in charge of the murder investigation, who is played by Ruben Blades as an anthology of Latino cop shtick (during a chat with Willis on a sidewalk, he slams a passerby against a car and frisks him while continuing the conversation). The therapy group is, of course, a seething hotbed of neurosis and suspicion, and the screenplay (by Matthew Chapman and Billy Ray) sends Willis to visit each of the group members in turn, so they can spread paranoia about the other members while establishing themselves as suspects.