“The Alibi” is not as sharp a Matthew Ehlers film as Lunch and Autobank are, but it does exhibit a growing talent and a penchant for good humor, despite the dark tone of this material. The victim this time around is a husband, Jerome Kremer (Jerry Jones) whose marriage to his wife (Amy Smith) does not make for good cheer at all. It has gotten so low that the hitman (Eric Cubitt) he has hired to kill her laughs for a while at the photos he has been handed, which show the poor bastard and his wife at their wedding, and at the Eiffel Tower, both in the same position in each photo, both scowling and unhappy.
The hitman, agrees to whack Jerome’s wife, but explains to him that he’s going to need an alibi. When met with the question of what an alibi is, the hitman “accidentally” knocks over a glass of water on a waiter’s pants and gives him a business card for a dry cleaning place and tells him to charge it to him. The hitman then demonstrates another way where he gets up and announces that the cooks in the kitchen of the particular restaurant they are at deserve a round of applause for the magic created all the time there. He then sits down and tells Jerome that he had better do the same, to show that he’s not at the crime scene because once this goes down, he’s going to be the prime suspect.
Jerome then goes to a different restaurant at 9:00 p.m. (The killing starts at 10) and tries to create an alibi to no success when a firefighter walks in the restaurant and announces that there’s a gas leak in the place and everyone should file out in an orderly fashion. As soon as he says that, a scene erupts that’s reminiscent of “Airplane!”, where Julie Hagerty tells everyone on board that there’s nothing to be alarmed about, but wants to know if there’s anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane, and then panic ensues. The funniest part of Jerome’s dilemma is when he begs someone to look at him and grabs the crook of an old lady’s arm and she snaps at him, “Clear out, asshole!” and then slugs him. I know I’ve seen it so many times before, but the foul-mouthed old biddy thing still gets me.
What works well is how when Jerome needs to be hidden well enough away from the scene of the crime, people constantly notice him, especially when he arrives back at his house when he doesn’t want to me, but due to previous circumstances far beyond his conscious control, he is. Ehlers manages to make the most of his cast, which actually work well in terms of the characters they play. He really seems to have a firm grip on what he wants and it shows a budding talent that has flowered so much after this film. To wait for what he releases next will be a test of suspense.
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