Maniacs, serial killers, psychopaths – the scourge of modern society. What drives these guys, what unknown force makes them take the lives of innocent citizens? This is the subject of the one-hundred-minute film directed by Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon. The 2023 novel will be of interest to psychologists, experts in the study of human souls, and simply criminologists. The ending will be intriguing, breaking down a lot of theories, versions and assumptions. Don’t jump to conclusions in the middle of the picture.
In America, no one imposes death sentences spontaneously and unreasonably. Before being sent to the electric chair the most ruthless murderer is checked, an opinion is drawn up about his mental state. The insane and mentally ill are not executed; they are placed under lifelong medical observation. The main character is James Martin, a doctor with a degree. He has to make the final expert testimony. His final word will be the verdict for the criminal Edward Wayne Brady. The assignment is assigned to him spontaneously: a previous soul connoisseur has thrown himself from the window of a high-rise.
On the appointed day and hour, Martin arrives at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. He is given an hour to talk and make a final judgment. The murderer’s life is in his hands: the execution is scheduled for 11:00 p.m. The protagonist is young and successful, he has a nice car, a decent salary and steep life prospects. The character is not about to hold a trial: objectivity is his key argument. Prison boss warns: the villain is insidious and dangerous, his hands in chains, but by talking he will get into the soul and make you feel like a serial killer. The suicide bomber will manipulate, portraying himself as an innocent sheep and a victim of circumstance.
In the course of the conversation, Edward will prove and pretend to be possessed by Nepharious, one of the devil’s servants. He knows lines from the Bible, pretends to be a sincere believer, and shows signs of nervous disorders. The facial expressions, the gestures, the tics, the looks, all have a negative effect on the viewer and our influential doctor. The specialist is two steps away from a diagnosis of mental illness. Such a verdict will not permit the execution of a ruthless killer. James Martin values his reputation and is not going to go along with the relatives of the victims: he is extremely honest and professional.
From the first minutes of communication the criminal intrigues: he knows the details of the death of the former expert and accuses the protagonist of the death of three people. The doctor’s debut victim was his own mother. She was sick and in agony for a long time – James made the decision to euthanize her. The young man always needed money; he inherited four million dollars from his mother! The second victim in the next few minutes should be his unborn son. The prisoner knows Martin’s relationship with his girlfriend down to the last detail: she is going to have an abortion that day. Under the influence of the killer, the protagonist decides to become a father and makes an emergency call to the hospital. But it’s too late – his beloved has already been taken to the operating room. And Edward relishes the details of the embryo’s death, which makes James furious.
The doctor is ready to pronounce the verdict “sick and believes in God,” but the murderer is against it. He asks for no mercy and once again assures that he is immortal. And the body is only a shell. Edward doesn’t mind being electrocuted: lethal injection is not his credo. He’s not human and incapable of dying-he’ll only change his appearance. Once again James is stressed by the way the question is posed, and he desperately argues with the suicide bomber and gets as close to him as possible. The dexterous assassin grabs him, puts a chain around his neck, and pushes his head against the table. The victim cries out for help, and the guards rush into the room. The insidious Edward demands that the prisoner believe he is exceptional and work for the devil. The professor’s life hangs in the balance, he wheezes and agrees. The guards beat the prisoner, and James shouts out: “Healthy and liable to execution!” This means that he has a third murder on his record!
A few hours later, the execution begins, with those in the audience who wish to see their relatives murdered. Among them is our doctor. The first electric shock does not take Edward’s life, the executioners have to repeat the procedure. And the main character experiences unpleasant feelings in these moments, something happens to his soul, he loses self-control. At the moment when the maniac is already dead, James snatches his gun from the cop’s holster and points it at the people around him. There is panic in the hall, everyone is screaming. The guards urge him to calm down and hand over his gun. But he is insane and decides to kill himself with a shot to the head. The attempt misfires, the young man does not back down and continues to repeatedly pull the trigger. But an unknown force prevents him from committing suicide, he is grabbed and disarmed.
A year passed, the main character changed his way of life and became a writer. The first mystical book is a success: during a television interview, he claims that Nefarius possessed him and dictated the content. Some people think the writer is crazy, others think he’s just a publicist. The final scene puts everything in its place: James comes out of the TV center, a dark-skinned beggar woman is fumbling near a huge garbage can. The woman collects empty bottles, happy with leftover food. The protagonist doesn’t pass by and gives the destitute woman $20. She thanks and smiles: the stranger knows him well. Next, a phrase comes out of her mouth in the voice of the executed Edward: “Hi, James! Did you miss me?” He has indeed changed his bodily form and continues to serve the dark forces of hell.
It is up to the viewer to conclude the meaning of the film and its subtext. It is the final episode that crosses out all previous speculations, psychological explanations of the maniac’s behavior. The author of the tape declares that the servants of the devil are among us, there are no weapons against them. You just have to accept reality, be careful, live honestly and ask God for protection.