Interview With The Assassin (2002) – A Review
Rob Kobelski (Dylan Haggerty) is an out of work TV cameraman living in a quiet suburban neighborhood with his wife and daughter. Wiling his days away with little to do as he looks for work one day he’s asked by his reclusive older neighbor for his assistance.
Walter Ohlinger (Raymond J. Barry) says he committed a crime years ago and now wants to confess and tell the truth about what he has done before he dies from cancer. Intrigued – and a little bit bored – Rob agrees to film Walter and is surprised when he claims he was the unknown second gunman and was the man who actually killed President Kennedy in Dallas.
Interview With The Assassin is a mockumentary-style conspiratorial look at the Kennedy assassination. It’s falls in the same category with so many of the recent first-person point-of-view, shaky cam movies.
What begins as a tripod sit down interview with the alleged assassin who murdered President John F. Kennedy, soon becomes a handheld investigation into Walter’s story told through pinhole cameras, surveillance screens and the ever-trusty video camera.
This is right up the alley for any Kennedy assassination conspiracy fan. It plays out the scenario that Walter is the second gunman who was situated behind the fence on the grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza. He’s the man who made the fatal shot at the president while Lee Harvey Oswald took the blame.
As Rob begins researching Walter’s story, talks to his old friends, his ex-wife and listens to Walter’s account of what he did he isn’t sure what to believe. He’s skeptical, but being able to uncover a story like this – if it is indeed true – would make him rich and famous. Is what he’s hearing true? Is Walter the actual assassin or an unstable lying old man?
The movie takes this supposed premise and does a good job running with it than I had expected. It manages to build up suspense in seemingly simple scenes as the paranoia of our two heroes build. Are they being followed? Are their lives in danger? Is there anyone who can back up Walter’s story? Is Walter just a nutjob manipulating Rob?
This came out during the flood of the ‘handheld’ movie craze in the Blair Witch Project-wake. At the time first seeing this in 2002 it felt much fresher and unique than it does today. I’ve felt for quite a while now that the ‘camcorder/handheld’ format has been done to death and there’s very little new that we’ve seen from it.
However, it does benefit the movie and its story of an a man talking with his neighbor, revealing something extraordinary and the amateur sleuthing these two characters do to look into the validity of this spilled secret. That’s all done as well as it could be.
The real ace in the hole the movie has which makes it worth checking out is Raymond J. Barry. As the alleged assassin he gives a very quiet, unemotional performance as he talks about his story.
He says things so matter-of-factly that I get drawn into listening to what he has to say. At the same time he seems like he can snap at any given moment and become violent, which helps sell the idea maybe he could have killed the president.
He’s onscreen for the majority of the movie and he’s riveting to watch the entire time. I remember hearing from some people who saw this when it first came out after the first fifteen or twenty minutes they thought this was an actual documentary. Barry is really good in this.
The film kind of peters out in the end with a not very satisfactory conclusion (which I won’t spoil), but up until then it’s a decent low-budget little suspense yarn. It’s not a long film and doesn’t overstay its welcome and it gets some pretty good mileage out of documenting this popular conspiracy theory. But it’s mainly Barry’s performance as this no nonsense neighbor who we’re not sure is unhinged or is completely sincere in his confession that is the main attraction here.
And here’s the movie…