John Carl Buechler directed and Peter Davy produced this rated R, American movie, The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde which was released February 1st, 2006, in the United States. This movie was an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). Buechler was also head of the screenplay writing and foresaw the vision in which he wanted to create in adapting this iconic novel. Tony Todd plays the character of both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in this dark and sinister adaptation. Most reviews found on the film are mixed, as it portrays a darker, more sinister and more sexualized version of the 1886 novella.
Instead of the traditional setting of Victorian England in which most of these adaptations are set in, this 2006 movie is set in modern times, in a college town. Tony Todd (Clive Barker's Candyman, Final Destination 2) portrays that of Henry Jekyll and Hyde in this suspenseful, cheesy adaptation. Henry Jekyll, a doctor who has cured a primate of a heart condition, decides to try his own serum, injecting himself. Instead of the classical storyline of Jekyll and Hyde residing in one body, the two characters become a split personality, often both thriving at the same time, talking to one another in seperate entities. Hyde is truly the definition of a monster, not only preying on the innocent, who his targets in this film are that of young college women, but literally tearing and eating them apart from the inside out and sexually assaulting them. In this sense, he could be compared to that of a werewolf, for his victims are normally attacked at night and tore apart by his teeth and claws.
Jekyll is framed in this story and ends up paying ($50,000) off the families of the murdered in order to cover his "others" tracks. Eventually unable to control Hyde, Jekyll attempts to turn himself into the police, but Hyde refuses to let it happen because he knows if they put Jekyll to death, Hyde goes along with him. Eventually, Jekyll finds he has no choice but to commit suicide, jumping off a building, with the last words, "It was for my soul!"
The characters in this film are only similar to those in the novel, in that they have the same name, but generally serve a different purpose. Characters who reside in both this film and the 1886 novella include: Dr. Henry Jekyll/Edward "Eddie" Hyde (Tony Todd), Karen Utterson, played as a woman instead of the man, in the novel (Tracy Scoggins), Dr. Lanyon (Vernon Wells), Poole (Peter Lupus III), Donna Carew (Deborah Shelton), and Richard Enfield (Stephen Wastell). All of these characters have a more modern place within this story line. An example of this is Utterson playing a woman detective trying to solve the case of the college women murders. Poole, a personal assistant of Henry Jekyll, plays a similar character to that of the novel, often sticking up for most of Jekyll's behavior.
Duality and Personality Disorders
In this modern day film, the idea of duality turns into that of dual personalities. When Dr. Jekyll first injects himself with the serum he is unaware of the consequences and doesn't realize that Hyde is a manifestation of himself. Even in the scene that Donna Carew is letting Jekyll know that he needs to fire Hyde, he unwillingly transforms into Hyde and kills and assaults her. Hyde even says to Carew that Jekyll is a didelusional, psychotic, schizophrenic, and paranoid man of split personality. Ironically Hyde personifies this split personality he himself speaks of.
The two characters are of one, but look like two completely different entities. Jekyll comes across as a clean-cut doctor who has a dirty conscious. He is respected by his peers and is philanthropic towards Hyde's victim's families. He is a very intelligent man who is initially unaware of Hyde's destruction until after it happens. Hyde on the other hand, is an cannibalistic (even hairier), destructive, not conscious character of which survives alongside Jekyll in his laboratory. His skin is darker, his hair is longer and his teeth are sharper. He often wears black and is introduced coming out of cages in dark situations. His co-workers see him only when Jekyll is not around, but never make the connection. He often is unruly, yelling and throwing things in his "lab" where he takes is told to take care of the primates. Hyde comes out apart from Jekyll when he is tested and questioned.
Eventually, Hyde stays side by side with Jekyll in a majority of scenes. During these particular scenes, we realize that Jekyll doesn't realize that Hyde is actually him, even attempting to run away from him. Only the viewers, at this point, understand the change and can see Jekyll is having issues of a split personality disorder. This is until Dennis Lanyon, Jekyll's friend and colleague, sees the transformation himself during a dinner.
In most adaptations of the 1886 novel, sexuality is a major theme. In this one in particular, both characters are very sexualized when it comes to the female characters they interact with. Henry Jekyll first scene in which he has visions of Hyde are when he is laying in bed next to his young, scantily dressed girlfriend. Hyde, on the other hand sexually assults each of his victims after their murders. One of the focuses of the murders is often on the "unknown" semen that they find on the killers bodies. Even in one instance in which Hyde does not kill his victim, he is face to face with Gloria Hatten, he tells her that he has always been taken aside by her, and ends up licking her face before she runs away.
This is one of the many differences that this movie has separate from the book. The involving of female characters is a major adoption in a majoirty of the adaptations since Stevenson's novel. An obvious sexual tension is usually introduced, but this film produces a whole new level, where women are the main prey of his sexual tendencies and violations.
The significance of this film brings the Victorian England into a modern setting showing us that the monster can transfer through history, also showing that the monster never can die. This modern day thriller and detective version of the iconic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde brings the viewers into a whole new light. I am not sure of a cultural significance besides the modern outlook on a timeless classic other than being extremely cheesy and awkward. Distributed by Rocky Mountain Pictures with a low budget of an estimated $750,000 and running around 100 minutes, this modern adaptation leaves us laughing at an attempt to make Hyde a scary and thrilling character. Tony Todd's portrayal is less than desired, and the detective narrative is awkward and forced. The attempt is satisfactory for the film's budget and timeline, but it definitely deserves its 3.9 out of 10 stars on IMDb.