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The Skeptic Remains a Slave to the TV Lexicon

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The Skeptic
Directed by Tennyson Bardwell
IFC Films
Opens May 1, IFC Center

A TV-grade suspenser from the director of Dorian Blues, The Skeptic channels the spirit of Murder, She Wrote and 3-2-1 Contact's Bloodhound Gang, following the star of Wings and Private Practice into an ostensibly haunted Victorian manse in order to watch him go through the obligatory motions of shedding his doubting-Thomas skin. Seeing is believing, but the aptly named Bryan Becket (Tim Daly) remains unconvinced even after a sexy-kooky psychic (Zoë Saldana) pinpoints the identity and beef of the ghost spooking his new house, probably because the woman's incantatory methods ludicrously suggest the influence of Meg Ryan's orgasm-faking spitfire. A mechanical compendium of anti-skepticism clichés, right down to the obligatory post-realization upchuck, Tennyson Bardwell's crazily overwritten script casts Bryan as a lawyer so as to further emphasize the character's beyond-a-reasonable-doubt practicality, and unsubtly conflates the man's supernatural disbelief with his lack of faith in his marriage. Though a few scary skeletons (and one doll) rattle in and out of the film's closet, Bardwell is a slave to television lexicon, allowing Bryan and his lawyer buddy (Tom Arnold) to brave the banter of shrill detective comedies, and framing his images with all the brio of your average Scarecrow and Mrs. King episode.

 
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