23, it seems like such an unassuming number, who would have known its alleged prominence over all of human history, it’s a spooky coincidence that’s rife with creative possibilities just waiting to be explored. In 2007 (2003 would be too poetic), this particular quirk of reality would be taken to its logical and dramatic conclusion in The Number 23.
Walter Sparrow has a simple but happy life as an animal control officer, happily married to Angela, and with a loving son. For his birthday, Angela buys Sparrow a mysterious tome, that caught her eye in a bookstore. It has no information to go on about who wrote or published it. Sparrow reads it and becomes alarmed how much the character resonates with himself. He goes deeper realising the number 23, that haunts the main character’s life has haunted his. Angela must now help her husband before the dark ending of the book replays itself.
Versatility is clearly in Jim Carrey’s wheelhouse as he manages to alternate between happy family man, to a hard-boiled detective, to paranoid obsessive. A then-rare treat to see him in a more subdued and serious role, though he seems more than up for the challenge. Madsen plays Angela and serves as a voice of reason, as a veteran of famed horror franchise Candyman, she has proven track record of reacting to unimaginable terror. Even Logan Lerman has some good moments and some interesting developments that were unfortunately cut from the final film.
The noir-soaked novel is recreated with these ultra-stylistic segments, with a moody colour scheme and pulpy narration. It comes off like Max Payne in places but nails the vibe it’s going for. It feels like the work of Joel Schumacher, who returns with Jim Carrey for their second outing. The film gets a little dark in places, similar to the depths that Flatliners plunged, and has a couple twists up its sleeve that I did not see coming, but made subsequent re-watches even more fascinating, seeing all the pieces fit.
The Number 23 is a fascinating tale of obsession, following from the best by taking a peculiar quirk and building off into a creepy threat. A thriller thrice filled with twist and turns, and a hefty dose of style from Joel Schumacher. In The Number 23, you’ll find both Carrey and Madsen on fine form, and a story that is intriguing, you’re in for a fun night of number-based nightmares, in fact, if you like it, it might be worth it to watch it two or three more times, though any more would be madness.
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