When Gwen walks into the diner she’s ready for trouble, but after sitting down at the counter and giving her order something changes inside her. Suddenly she doesn’t know where she is and she certainly doesn’t know why there’s an automatic weapon in her purse, and when the waitress sees the gun and starts screaming and the cops at the opposite table draw their guns and command her to drop her weapon Gwen definitely doesn’t mean to panic and squeeze the trigger, blasting the waitress down.

This is the beginning of 88 and only the start (or, maybe, the midpoint?) of Gwen’s quest for revenge, to kill the man who killed her boyfriend, but Gwen doesn’t realise she is in a fugue state – a kind of split-personality disorder caused by the trauma of her boyfriends death – and throughout the film she switches endlessly between her scared shitless ‘true’ self to an alter-ego known as Flamingo, a volatile young woman as cold blooded and ruthless as the men who murdered her lover. Katharine Isabelle plays Gwen / Flamingo and it is to her credit, and no thanks to a horribly formulaic script that isn’t as smart as it thinks it is that she manages to not only keep both characters separate but also manages to almost keep this insipid mess of a revenge thriller afloat.

I watched 88 twice because, as a big fan of Katharine Isabelle’s previous work, I was sure I must have missed something first time round in order to dislike it this much. I don’t think I did. Without Isabelle in the lead 88 would be in the straight-to-DVD bargain bin the day after release. She really is the only reason to watch this film. True, she has some growly support from Christopher Lloyd as the killer she’s a-huntin’ (a cookie-cutter bad guy, he was scarier in ‘Roger Rabbit’) and Michael Ironside works beautifully against Isabelle in a too-brief police station interrogation scene, but apart from a quirky sequence involving a bikini-clad arms dealer with a revolving ‘Business’ / ‘Leisure’ sign hanging on the wall that she clicks around and around like a James Bond numberplate, this is a dreary and uninspired attempt at a movie that wants to sit somewhere between ‘Memento’, ‘The Brave One’ and ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’ and doesn’t even match the lows of the worst ‘Death Wish’ sequel. The most interesting thing to note was, in an almost enviable display of rampant-ego-gone-mad, 88’s screenwriter Tom Doiron gave himself the showiest role and best lines as Flamingo’s annoying sidekick-who-deserves-a-kicking. Hey, if you’re going to write an awful film at least grab some highlights for your acting showreel right?

88 should be renamed ‘Deep Six’ because it deserves to be buried without trace. With a roster of solid and usually mesmerising performances behind her, including the iconic ‘American Mary’ and cult favourite ‘Ginger Snaps’, Katharine Isabelle deserves better than to waste her time covering the asses of projects like this.

Frightfest Glasgow review: 88
2.0Overall Score
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About The Author

Ian White is an author, screenwriter and journalist. His book ‘Witchcraft and Black Magic in British Cult Cinema’ was recently published by Hemlock and he is a regular contributor to ‘Paranormal Underground’ and ‘Starburst’ magazines. He’s currently writing a new book and screenplay and his embarrassingly out-of-date website can be found at http://ianwhitelondon.wix.com/ian-white