Romulus (Samuel L. Jackson), also known as the Caveman, is a homeless schizophrenic man. In another life he was a brilliant concert pianist, but he now lives in a cave in Central Park. After coming across a dead body, he decides it’s the work of his phantom enemy Steiberson, and vows to solve the case. A friend points him to David Leppenraub (Colm Feore), a famous photographer, who knew the deceased. Romulus infiltrates Leppenraub’s world, putting himself in jeopardy to find the truth.
The film is less a horror movie than a psychological thriller, directed by Kasi Lemmons–did you know she directs? She’s more than just the white protagonist’s sassy best friend. I did find it disturbing. The main character is clearly delusional—or is he? We’re given little flashes throughout the film that force us to identify with him and his ideas, like a shot of him on a video camera while yelling at Steiberson, or whispers in his head that we can hear. There’s also the scene when he sees a murder on his T.V. (which isn’t even plugged in), but he finds a corpse outside in the morning.
Overall, Romulus is a sympathetic character, though I can’t help but cheer a little inside when his daughter Lulu (Aunjanue Ellis) blows up at him for being so darn unstable. He’s a prince compared to the people who jeer and laugh at him, or wealthy couple Bob (Anthony Michael Hall) and Betty (Kate McNeil) who exploit him for his piano-playing skills, or Leppenraub, who’s creepy and vulpine (Feore is definitely trying to channel Hannibal Lecter).
As can be expected from Lemmons’s other film Eve’s Bayou, the cinematography is spectacular. The writing is solid, the performances are great, and it’s pretty unpredictable. The last twenty or so minutes are a little too Scooby Doo-ish for me, but overall, it’s definitely worth watching. Give it a look if you’re in the mood for a murder mystery with an unusual protagonist.