B Movie Glory: Papertrail aka Trail Of A Serial Killer

In the realm of cheap, lazy, perpetually nocturnal Seven ripoffs you can do worse than watching Papertrail aka Trail Of A Serial Killer but unfortunately you can also do way, way better. This is a murky, messily plotted, bizarrely acted, clunky, borderline incomprehensible mess that is given the dimmest bit of pedigree from two things: Michael Madsen and Chris Penn. The two have acted together quite a bit over the years before Chris’s untimely death and here they give notably overcooked tough guy turns as FBI Agents stationed in Toronto, one a weary, stressed out one (Madsen) and the other a disgraced unstable one (Penn). The latter is apparently a notoriously gifted asset for hunting killers in the tradition of Will Graham and such and is lured in by the former to track a murderer who has been eluding them for several years. Their investigation leads them to many dimly lit, depressing urban locales and eventually to the therapy group of a mysterious shrink (Jennifer Dale), one of whose patients, it seems, might just be the killer. While we’re on the subject of ripoffs, that idea is a blatant loft from the Bruce Willis erotic flick Colour Of Night, I might add. That’s about the most sense I could make out of the plot, which at best is a lurid frenzy of odd elements parading by and at worst is a flatlining series of WTF plot turns with no real interest. Penn was a genuinely good actor, despite what some people may tell you, and he isn’t half bad here as the near suicidal divorced lawman who is at the hysterical end of his rope. Madsen gives a performance that is just plain weird, he’s fired up and pissed in scenes that require him to be restrained and low key and then he’s oddly relaxed in instances where he should be on edge. It kind of works in a counterintuitive fashion, if you’re willing to overlook credibility and just accept that any Madsen is good Madsen in a film. This is honestly just a shamelessly trashy B grade pile of nonsense that I would never have lent ninety minutes of my time to if it didn’t star these two great actors, and I won’t lie in saying that if you aren’t an avid fan of both, you’re gonna hate this thing and resent giving it a shot.

-Nate Hill

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