Chess champion Peter Saunderson finds himself fingered for a series of ritualistic muders during the world championships at a posh seaside resort. The police bring in a psychologist to analyse his mind, who becomes enamored with the So police Chief Frank Sedman and detective Andy Wagner call in psychologist Kathy Sheppard to examine the mind of their suspect. But when the body count rises, the police come to rely on Sanderson's sharp intelligence to steer them in the right direction. And when Ka
Chess grandmaster Paul Sanderson (Lambert) is something of a lothario on the tournament circuit as well as a whiz on the board, although his clandestine tryst with an official earning him prime suspect status when she's found murdered. His involvement is more profound than simply carnal, however, and in attempt to prove his innocence, he surrenders to his gaming instincts and is drawn into the tactical pursuit of a serial killer who slits his victims' wrists, drains their blood, and then tidies up nicely afterwards.
Also investigating the deaths are Chief of Police Frank Sedman (Skerritt) and his hot-headed detective, Andy Wagner (Daniel Baldwin, whom it immediately becomes apparent is blessed with neither the good looks nor acting ability of his brothers Alec and Billy). Brought in to aid them in their enquiries is student psychologist Lane (Lambert's real-life missus), enlisted to get inside Sanderson's head - with his pants as an option - and to determine whether he is, in fact, capable of murder.
As psycho thrillers go this isn't that bad, what with a preposterous narrative, a shoal of red herrings, some enlivening cod psychology and a body count that increases in direct proportion to the plot's implausibility. Lambert characteristically furrows his brow and comes on like Sherlock Holmes on amphetamines, while Schenkel's direction is superficial but oddly effective, with the opening flashback sequence, shot in expressionistic black-and-white, succeeding in making even the playing of a game of chess seem sinister. That in itself, of course, is no mean feat.
Sexy and slick direction from Schenkel, but one more for Lambert fans.