Wes Craven could not be pigeonholed into anything. He gave us aggressively real horror, nightmarish horror, goofy horror, and even one drama with Meryl Streep. More than anything, he gave us unforgettable stories. Monsters that killed you in your dreams, cannibals who attacked you in the desert, voodoo priests who killed you and brought you back, and even serial killers who turned into electricity. Wes Craven was one of the most creative filmmakers who ever lived, and Shocker could've been one of his masterpieces if he'd just trimmed it by about twenty minutes.
This bizarre flick is saved by Mitch Pileggi, who delivers a deliciously unhinged performance as Horace Pinker, the unkillable serial killer. For you X-Files fans, you'll recognize Pileggi as FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner, oftentimes the voice of reason and civility. If nothing else, this film shows Pileggi's impressive range. Peter Berg is pretty good too as the football player who may or may not be Pinker's son. That's never really cleared up. Why could Jonathan (Berg) dream travel minutes into the future? What was with Alison's (Cooper) ghost? How does turning the power off destroy Pinker? These are all questions that never get cleared up.
Shocker is a pretty good movie up until Pinker gets electrical powers through some sort of voodoo bullshit that also is never cleared up. Then, Pileggi vanishes for most of the film, until a climactic TV battle between him and Jonathan at the end. It seems like a lot of ideas were suggested, and all of them made it past the cutting room floor. If this thing was a bit more streamlined, it could be a truly awesome movie.