Identity (film)

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Identity poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Mangold
Produced by Cathy Konrad
Written by Michael Cooney
Based on And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie
Starring John Cusack
Ray Liotta
Amanda Peet
Alfred Molina
Clea DuVall
Rebecca De Mornay
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Phedon Papamichael Jr.
Edited by David Brenner
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • April 25, 2003 (2003-04-25)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $28 million[1]
Box office $90.2 million[1]

Identity is a 2003 American psychological thriller film directed by James Mangold from a screenplay written by Michael Cooney. The film stars John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Alfred Molina, Clea DuVall and Rebecca De Mornay.

While it is not a direct adaptation of the 1939 Agatha Christie whodunit novel And Then There Were None, which was adapted for feature films in 1945, 1965, 1974, 1987 and 1989, the plot draws from the structure the novel first popularized in which 10 strangers arrive at an isolated location which becomes temporarily cut off from the rest of the world, and are mysteriously killed off one by one. Several events which take place in the hours before the characters arrived at the hotel are introduced at key moments during the film using a reverse chronology structure. A Hindi movie of Bollywood named Khamoshh... Khauff Ki Raat was made in 2005 following the storyline of Identity.[2]


A convict named Malcolm Rivers awaits execution for several vicious murders that took place at an apartment building. Journals belonging to Malcolm are discovered mis-filed in the case evidence, not introduced during the trial. Malcolm's psychiatrist, Dr. Malick, and his defense attorney argue that the evidence was intentionally suppressed by the prosecution and move to stay Rivers' execution, contending that Malcolm is legally insane. With this late evidence brought forth, a midnight hearing takes place, to determine if the journal is adequate evidence to grant their motion.

Meanwhile, ten strangers find themselves stranded in the middle of a torrential rainstorm at a remote Nevada motel, run by Larry Washington. The group consists of an ex-cop, now limousine driver, Ed Dakota; Caroline Suzanne, an actress popular in the 1980s; Officer Rhodes, who is transporting convicted murderer Robert Maine; Paris Nevada, a prostitute; newlyweds Lou and Ginny Isiana; and the York family, George, Alice and their nine-year-old son Timmy who are in crisis because Alice has been struck by Ed's car.

With both ends of the road completely flooded, the group is forced to spend the night at the hotel, but an unidentified killer begins to murder them one by one. Caroline is the first to be killed. Ed discovers her head with some of her clothes in a laundry machine inside the motel's laundry room. Rhodes and Larry join him shortly and the trio discover a room key marked with the number 10 inside the same machine where Caroline's head is found. When they go to check the room where Rhodes had left Maine, they discover that Maine has escaped. The group is told to stay together while Ed and Rhodes search for Maine, though Larry sneaks off to steal Caroline's wallet. Ginny becomes increasingly agitated, eventually fleeing to her room. She and Lou argue as he chases after her, but he is stabbed to death while she is hiding in the bathroom. Maine breaks into a darkened building, but when he looks outside he realizes he is in the diner, back at the motel, before being knocked unconscious by Ed and Rhodes. Ed and Rhodes tie up Maine to a post and put Larry in charge of guarding him; but Larry eventually sneaks off again, and Maine is killed. As the group confronts Larry, suspected of killing Maine, another room key marked with the number 8 is discovered near Maine's body. The group go back to check Lou's body to find a room key marked with the number 9 near his body. This leads the group to start thinking that they are being killed one-by-one in a countdown. A panicked Larry attempts to escape in his truck, claiming he did not kill anybody but accidentally runs over George, killing him. Ginny exclaims that the motel's brochure describe native Indians being buried next to the motel and the bizarre deaths could be the work of some supernatural element.

At the hearing, the contents of Malcolm's diaries are revealed, indicating Malcolm suffers from an extreme case of dissociative identity disorder, harboring eleven distinct personalities. His journal contains entries written by his different personalities, each with distinct handwriting and writing style, as if they were the personal thoughts of several different people. His defense attorney argues that Malcolm is completely unaware of the crimes for which he is being executed, which is in violation of existing Supreme Court rulings. Dr. Malick is introducing the concept of integrating the personalities of someone with dissociative identity disorder, when Malcolm arrives, strapped into a wheelchair.

At the hotel, the survivors tie Larry up, and he tells them his story - of taking over the hotel after finding the real hotel manager dead, of apparent natural causes, while leaving Vegas broke and desperate. It is discovered that Alice has apparently died from her injuries. A room key marked 6 is found by her body, so they check George's body and find the key marked 7 in his pocket, even though both George and Alice died from clear accidents. Ed, coming to the conclusion that it is unsafe for them to stay at the motel any further, asks Ginny and Timmy to leave immediately. However, the two die when the car they seem to have boarded explodes. Surprisingly, after putting out the fire caused by the explosion, their bodies are nowhere to be found. Rhodes accuses Ed of the murders as it was his idea for Ginny and Timmy to leave the motel, however as he passes the the area George died, Georges body has vanished also. The remaining four head to all crime scenes around the motel and notice, Lous body gone, Alice gone, Caroline’s head vanished and Maine’s body dissapeared. Paris, yelling in hysterics at their unknown assailant, says that her birthday is the next week. Larry mentions that his birthday is also next week, on the 10th - Paris, Rhodes and Ed all reveal that is also their birthday. They check Larry's photocopies of the guests' IDs and confirm that all 11 of them were born on May 10 - which is also Malcolm's birthday, and the day he committed the murders.

Sensing a headache, Ed hears a voice call out to him, as he listens he finds himself in different building, strapped to the chair, Dr. Malick calling out to him. Finding he is at the meeting to argue and postpone Malcolm's execution, confused as to why he's being told of the crimes and Malcolm Rivers' past. Dr. Malick gives him a mirror and shows Edward his own reflection, which is not his own. Dr. Malick further explains to the horrified Edward that he is in fact, one of the personalities that Malcolm Rivers created as a child to cope with the abandonment and abuse he was subjected to. Informed that one of the personalities is the homicidal template that went on a killing spree, Ed is instructed to "go back" to the motel to try and eliminate this identity.

Ed 'awakens' to find himself standing in the rain, looking at the motel from a distance. Paris finds convict-transportation files for both Maine and Rhodes in the police car. A flashback reveals that Rhodes killed the correctional officer transporting him and Maine, putting the officer's body in the trunk, and then assumed his identity. Rhodes attacks Paris, but she is saved by Larry, who is then shot and killed by Rhodes. Believing Rhodes to be the murderous personality, Ed goes after him, and they end up shooting each other fatally, leaving only Paris still alive. When Malick demonstrates that the homicidal personality is dead, Malcolm's execution is stayed and he is placed in a mental institution under Malick's care. In Malcolm's mind, Paris has driven back to her hometown in Frostproof, Florida. As she tends to some soil in her orange grove, she discovers the room 1 motel key, and finds Timmy behind her. Flashbacks reveal that Timmy orchestrated all of the deaths at the motel, and made it appear that he had been killed with Ginny. Timmy kills Paris, while Malcolm strangles Malick, causing the van to swerve off the road and stop before Timmy's voice repeats the poem one more time, now the sole personality of Malcolm Rivers.



All filming was undertaken in the United States. Some took place in Lancaster, California and other places in Los Angeles County, while the majority was shot on a sound stage at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City.

Angelo Badalamenti was originally signed to score the film, but his music was replaced with a new score by Alan Silvestri (Silvestri had previously replaced Badalamenti on 1991's Shattered).


Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 62%, based on 171 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10.[3] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 64 out of 100 points, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[4] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[5]

Film critic Roger Ebert wrote upon the film's release, "Altogether, there are 10 guests. One by one, they die. Agatha Christie fans will assume that one of them is the murderer—or maybe it's the clerk... I think it is possible that some audience members, employing [my] Law of Economy of Characters, might be able to arrive at the solution slightly before the movie does."[6]

Mick LaSalle of SFGate reported, "At first, Identity seems like nothing more than a pleasing and blatant homage (i.e. rip-off) to the Agatha Christie-style thriller where marooned guests realize that a murderer is in their midst ... we've seen it before. Yet make no mistake. Identity is more than an entertaining thriller. It's a highly original one."[7]

The Village Voice's Dennis Lim wrote of the film's premise, "The premise of the one-rainy-night thriller Identity seems like mothballed Agatha Christie," and of the film's third act twist, "The ultimate cliché of plot-twist implausibility, the crucial revelation is so outlandishly fatuous it might have given Donald Kaufman pause. But there's nothing self-parodic about Identity—the viewer must not only swallow the nullifying third-act bombshell but actually re-engage with the movie on its new, extremely dubious terms."[8]

Brian Mckay of wrote, "This film's cardinal sin was not that it had an engrossing but extremely far-fetched setup to a lackluster resolution—a resolution that probably sounded good during the initial script pitch, but which nobody realized was going to be such a misfire until the production was already at the point of no return. No, what Identity is guilty of most is bad timing—it simply gives away too much, too soon. At about the halfway mark (if not much sooner), the film's big "twist" will finally dawn on you (and if it doesn't, they'll end up coming right out and saying it five minutes later anyway). And once it does, you will no longer care what happens afterward."[9]

Box office performance[edit]

Identity opened on April 25, 2003 in the United States and Canada in 2,733 theaters.[1] The film ranked at #1 on its opening weekend, accumulating $16,225,263, with a per theater average of $5,936.[10] The film's five-day gross was $18,677,884.[11]

The film dropped down to #3 on its second weekend, behind newly released X2 and The Lizzie McGuire Movie, accumulating $9,423,662 in a 41.9% drop from its first weekend, and per theater average of $3,448.[12] By its third weekend it dropped down to #4 and made $6,477,585, $2,474 per theater average.[13]

Identity went on to gross $52.1 million in the United States and Canada and $38.1 million overseas. In total, the film has grossed over $90 million worldwide, making it a box office success against its $28 million budget.[1]


The film was nominated for Best Action, Adventure or Thriller Film and Best DVD Special Edition Release at 30th Saturn Awards, but lost to Kill Bill Volume 1 and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, respectively.


  1. ^ a b c d "Identity (2003)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Khamoshh - Khauff Ki Raat". April 15, 2005. Retrieved July 9, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Identity (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 16 October 2017. 
  4. ^ "Identity (2003)". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 1, 2009. 
  5. ^ "CinemaScore". 
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 25, 2003). "Identity (2003)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  7. ^ LaSalle, Mick (September 5, 2003). "There's no way out of motel from hell". Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  8. ^ Lim, Dennis (April 29, 2003). "No Exit: Hell Is Other People". The Village Voice. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  9. ^ McKay, Brian (August 5, 2003). "Review: Identity (2003)". Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  10. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for April 25–27". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Daily Box Office Results for April 29". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for May 2–4". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for May 9–11". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 

External links[edit]