This film bears a certain resemblance to South Korean writer-director Beong-ki Ahn’s GAWI (a.k.a. NIGHTMARE, 2000), in that it mixes supernatural and slasher elements, with a similarly schizophrenic result. There is an old spooky legend, involving the ghosts of dead children, plus a live murderer offing victims to prevent a dark secret from coming to light. There are teen victims, including a young female lead who turns out to be the “Final Girl”; plus, there are old folks who might have wandered in from an old Southern Gothic like HUSH…HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE. Although at times effective, this mixture is a bit like a soufflé laced with Thunderbird wine: you might like one or the other, or even both – but not together.
The story follows a high-school girl moving into her family’s new home after spending some time in rehab. The town has a local legend about a group of school kids who were killed by a train when their bus stalled on the tracks: as the story goes, any car that stops on the tracks will find itself magically propelled by the invisible ghosts of the victims, the only evidence being the imprint of the fingers. It turns out there’s more to the story, including a cover-up of a nasty town secret and psycho-killer stalking people who might reveal the truth.
The problem is that the story is predictable. You won’t need to perform any Holmesian analysis to deduce the identity; a simple process of elimination will do: the killings relate to a secret in the past; there are only two characters old enough to have known what happened, and one them is killed off, leaving guess who? Also unlikely, the killer, when finally revealed, seems incapable of the graphic violence perpetrated throughout the film.
Still, there is some nice atmosphere, and the film benefits from a strong performance by the young Leah Pipes in the lead, supported by more seasoned performers in supporting roles (Lou Diamond Phillips as a teacher-counselor, Sally Kirkland as an old woman whose sister was killed in the crash, Geoffrey Lewis as the town drunk). The ghosts are handled well, making the film reasonably spooky even if it falls flat as a mystery-thriller.
FINGERPRINTS (2006). Directed by Harry Basil. Written by Brian Cleveland & Jason Cleveland. Cast: Leah Pipes, Kristin Cavallari, Josh Henderson, Andrew Lawerence, Lou Diamond Phillips, Sally Kirkland, Geoffrey Lewis.