Jim is a security guard (Michael Cudlitz), on the surface he is a pleasant enough chap, but underneath he is a burning, twisted circle of hate. He’ll greet you with a friendly hello, and wish you dead the minute you have walked by. He is a grief tourist; he is obsessed with serial killers and their victims. Each holiday from work he visits the scenes of murders and follows in the footsteps of history. His latest obsession is the killer Carl Marznap, heading to the South he follows in Carl’s footsteps, but this killer seems to have more in common with Carl than he realizes.
The Grief Tourist is a slow burning thriller that on the surface is very flimsy when it comes to its subject matter. The viewer has traversed a whole hour of the movie without really discovering anything more than you had in the first ten minutes. All you get is a darker and darker image of our leading character. Then from out of nowhere it just happens, one big twist, one rather unexpected surprise blows everything out of the water and you suddenly find yourself in completely different terrain.
The most disturbing aspects of the movie stem from the moment we first see the character Betsy played by Melanie Griffith. Betsy is a picture of innocence, a woman with a soft heart, and a tragic background. It’s the relationship this character has with Jim that really is one of the first things to start tugging at your emotions. This relationship formed on a mutual situation (or at least that’s how she sees it), is turned around, upside down, an inside out.
The Grief Tourist is phenomenally well put together by director Suri Krishnamma, from the screenplay by Frank John Hughes. The timing of the shocking impacts is pivotal, to creating an ultimately jaw-dropping climax. It’s not all good, the end somehow feels a little hollow, but the journey is worth it. Few movies come along that are quite this gutsy and that makes this movie all the more worthy of your time.