On his birthday, Walter Sparrow, an amiable dog-catcher, takes a call that leaves him dog bit and late to pick up his wife. She’s browsed in a bookstore, finding a blood-red-covered novel, a murder mystery with numerology that loops constantly around the number 23. The story captivates Walter: he dreams it, he notices aspects of his life that can be rendered by “23,” he searches for the author, he stays in the hotel (in room 23) where events in the novel took place, and he begins to believe it was no novel. His wife and son try to help him, sometimes in sympathy, sometimes to protect him. Slowly, with danger to himself and to his family, he closes in on the truth.
Using his past experience as a window display artist and costume designer, director J l Schumacher developed into a purveyor of slickly produced film entertainment that was more often than not a triumph of style over substance. He was also one of the few directors with an uncanny knack for discovering and casting unknown actors who would later become stars, including Corey Haim, Colin Farrell, Gerard Butler and Matthew McConaughey to name a few. After helming such forgettable movies as “The Incredible Shrinking Woman” (1981) and “D.C. Cab” (1983), Schumacher scored his first financial hit with the Brat Pack-led “St. Elmo’s Fire” (1985). But it was the lasting success of the iconic horror comedy “The Lost Boys” (1987), which made stars out of the “two Coreys” and Kiefer Sutherland while earning new generations of fans over time, that put him on the map for posterity. Following the underwhelming “Flatliners” (1990), Schumacher directed perhaps his most compelling movie, the vigilante… read more
I cannot defend The Number 23. I admit I am becoming a fan of even Joel Schumacher's undefendable films, but it's because they're always fascinating. The plot idea of the 23 conspiracy is ludicrous, but bear in mind two things. 1) As someone becoming a fan of giallo, many mystery stories in various art forms have been propelled by absurd clues and concepts, right back with one of the first with Edgar Allen Poe and his ape, and that the best choose these ideas not for realism but to create a way to make the mystery far more abstract and internal for the characters involved. And 2), it's still a film that suggest this absurd concept as a virus, that anything - a book, an idea, a thought - can infect a person and completely alter their reality for good or bad. That I still remember vividly a promotional article of the film for the tabloid The Sun, about number 23 conspiracies, makes this film's central idea far more darker and ironic than the meshing of drama, neo-noir and mystery presents upfront. I cannot help but think of Takashi Miike's MPD Psycho, of all things, where a mobile phone can pass on a force; it just requires the right word, or number, to reveal something or create it. For such a mess, still visually great as expected from Schumacher even with a film like this, it's so out of place from what is expected from Hollywood cinema, which is why I've become enamoured with Schumacher even if I shouldn't always. There is not another film like this in existence even if anyone else thinks it's awful.