"Blind Side" starts out like a credit card commercial but ends like an imitation of "Nightmare on Elm Street," or any other mad-dog killer film whose only point is to pick away at viewers' most morbid fears.
But you can add Rutger Hauer to the list of loony killers and take Rebecca De Mornay off, for the actress who played the vengeful baby sitter in "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" portrays the innocent victim in "Blind Side."
The HBO Pictures film premieres at 9 o'clock tonight on the premium cable service. Euphemistically called a "psychological thriller," the movie is really just one more stalker flick, done up with a variety of weird camera angles, lighting effects and a fair bit of fake blood in juxtaposition to some flesh -- namely Ms. De Mornay's.
Sharp viewers should be able to predict the denouement death device no more than halfway through the film. Further, the script eventually tosses out its most interesting plot point in favor of more remorseless, sourceless malevolence.
In other words, "Blind Side" is just as bad as a big-bucks feature film. Who says cable can't compete?
For the record, Ms. De Mornay and Ron Silver portray married partners in a successful furniture business in Southern California. We meet them in Mexico, strolling the beach and enjoying sunsets at a resort hotel. (Trivia buffs take note: The scenes were shot at the same Las Jolla de Mismaloya resort where "The Night of the Iguana" was made, and production notes suggest the sets from that memorable film can still be seen in some background shots.)
Doug and Lynn are about to relocate their factory south of the border to save on labor costs -- a tiny moral question about such a move is raised but promptly forgotten -- and are looking forward to the birth of their first child, for Lynn is three months pregnant.
Driving back to Tijuana, they strike and presumably kill a Mexican policeman who stumbles into the road. She wants to call the police, but he hisses, "This is Mexico!" imagining his pregnant wife stuck forever in a filthy jail. (The Mexican tourist board will just love this movie.)
Thus they cross a moral boundary, choosing to head home without reporting the incident. So when a mysterious stranger named Jake Shell (Mr. Hauer) knocks on their door, the plot seems to have thickened with an agent of punishment for their crime.
No one who has seen many of these kinds of movies will have trouble predicting the morass into which our lead characters soon sink, and that it will involve more eye-rolling and demonic, hammy acting than Jack Nicholson did in "The Shining."
BEHIND THE MOVIES -- A CBS special tonight introduces viewers tothe real survivors of that South American plane crash in 1972 whose events are dramatized in the current theatrical film "Alive."
"Alive Twenty Years Later," at 10 p.m. on WBAL-Channel 11, includes interviews with the surviving members of the soccer team who survived for 10 weeks in the Andes Mountains only by resorting to cannibalism of their dead fellow passengers.
And the show will also include comments from relatives of some of the victims.