Largely forgotten and highly underrated, D-Tox is a rather peculiar serial killer movie starring Sylvester Stallone. I know what you’re thinking, Sly is going to kick the shit out of the killer, do a quirky one-liner and that’ll be it. However, as I already mentioned, this is not that type of movie. D-Tox is a dark, brooding, and incredibly fast-paced movie. I mean, I love fast-paced movies but this tempo might be too fast even for me. Stallone gave his most vulnerable and subdued performance to date. And I am counting the one from Cop Land although you could argue that one should not count.
The rest of the cast consists of established actors you surely know either from films or television. As the opening credits were rolling I was going crazy as I knew almost the entire cast. We’ve got Charles S. Dutton (Alien 3), Kris Kristofferson (Blade), Tom Berenger (Platoon), and Robert Patrick (Terminator 2) among others. This generated problems of its own as there were far too many characters. However, I have to admit that this messy approach did create a lot of energy. So, we will be following Jake Malloy, an FBI agent on the trail of a vicious serial killer.
However, this is no ordinary vicious serial killer but someone who’s targeting only cops. And he’s already killed nine of them. The movie is actually based on Howard Swindle’s novel Jitter Joint. One of the things that’s going to hit you right away is that juicy atmosphere. An atmosphere that smells of the late nineties. And don’t let the release year fool you, D-Tox was ready for distribution back in 1999. Studios didn’t like the final cut so the movie was shelved for three years until it finally got a limited release. It starts like your garden variety serial killer movie and then turns into a whole nother beast.
It’s not afraid of graphic scenes continuing the tradition set by genre classics like Se7en. And it’s also at the same time stereotypical and playing against the stereotypes. I wish I could tell you more but I don’t want to spoil anything. Just pay attention to the main character and you’ll know what I mean. As with all nineties and especially Stallone movies, it’s just a tad bit melodramatic and over-the-top. It’s not trying to be too clever which means it’s exceedingly easy to watch. When I played it last night, all I could remember from my first viewing some twenty years ago was snow. A lot of snow and some big silos or a tower.
I also, for the life of me, could not remember who the killer was, which turned out to be a huge plus. Mostly because we will spend the final third of the movie playing this who-done-it game. It reminds me of another early 2000s serial killer movie Mindhunters. Not to be confused with Fincher’s masterpiece of a television series Mindhunter. The claustrophobic interior of the huge abandoned bunker along with the snowy exterior created one hell of a setting. When you add to that the fact that the killer might be any one of the people here, you get something eerily reminiscent of The Thing.
After more than twenty years, this movie is finally starting to get the recognition it deserves. It’s certainly not the best movie in the genre but it will do just fine. Especially if you’re a fan of the genre. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like D-Tox, I suggest you check out some of the other popular late 90s/early 2000s thrillers like The Bone Collector, Resurrection, and Frailty. I also have to mention another snow serial killer movie, this time French, The Crimson Rivers.
Director: Jim Gillespie
Writers: Howard Swindle, Ron L. Brinkerhoff
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Charles S. Dutton, Kris Kristofferson, Robert Patrick, Dina Meyer, Tom Berenger
Fun Facts: Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, John Travolta and Nicolas Cage were all considered for the lead role in Eye See You AKA D-Tox instead of Sylvester Stallone.