A Stimulating John Cusack Thriller Is Leaving Netflix

The rare John Cusack slasher Identity is about to leave Netflix.

By Matthew Creith | Published

Chicagoan John Cusack has had quite the career working for talented directors. His starring roles in comedies and dramas like Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything…, Eight Men Out, The Grifters, High Fidelity, Grosse Pointe Blank, and Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway helped propel Cusack to becoming a full fledged movie star, but it was his turn in the neo-noir slasher film Identity that cemented the actor’s legacy in a genre he hadn’t dabbled much in before. Identity is currently available to stream on Netflix, however it is going to be leaving the streaming platform on November 1, so it might be time for audiences to revisit the classic thriller before it’s gone.

Identity stars John Cusack as Ed Dakota, a former Los Angeles police officer and current limo driver who gets caught up in an investigation and subsequent criminal activities occurring at a remote Nevada motel. While his character and others are stranded at the motel, a treacherous rain storm keeps them from leaving, as the ten strangers inhabiting the motel begin to realize they are being killed one right after the other. The ensemble thriller co-stars the late Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Winter’s Bone actor John Hawkes, Clea DuVall, Rebecca De Mornay, Jake Busey, and Spider-Man: No Way Home star Alfred Molina.

Directed by James Mangold, who would go on to helm hit films like 3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line, Logan, and the upcoming fifth installment in the Indiana Jones series of films, Identity was released in theaters in April 2003 and became a financial success for Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Releasing. The John Cusack movie went on to gross over $90 million at the box office against a budget of $28 million, and beat out other movies to become the number one ranked flick upon its opening weekend. The movie’s success at the box office may have been attributed to the fact that Identity is loosely based on Agatha Christie’s classic mystery novel, And Then There Were None, which also tells the story of of strangers in a remote hotel that see each person killed off one by one in a stylistic manner.

john cusack
John Hawkes, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, and John Cusack in Identity (2003)

For lovers of John Cusack’s work in film, audiences and critics were pretty split in their reactions upon the film’s release due to plot twists and the ending of the movie, but many have come around with time to make Identity a cult classic. Rotten Tomatoes currently ranks the film with a 63% on its Tomatometer based on 171 critics’ reviews, as well as an Audience Score of 75% based on over 100,000 ratings from verified users to the site. Similarly, Metacritic has Identity rated with a Metascore of 64 based on 34 critics’ reviews, as well as a User Score of 8.5 based on 475 verified ratings from users to the site, which typically denotes generally favorable reviews from critics and universal acclaim from audience members.

Though Identity reflected an isolated motel in what appears to be the Nevada desert, the movie was actually filmed with John Cusack and the other cast members in Lancaster, California, as well as other parts of Los Angeles County. Like many productions of that era, most of the motel scenes were shot on a sound stage at the Sony Pictures Studios lot in Culver City, California, similar to another classic motel murder mystery that filmed on the Universal Studios lot, Psycho. Composer Angelo Badalamenti was initially tapped to create a score for Identity as he had recently come off of similar mystery projects like 2001’s Mulholland Drive and 2002’s Cabin Fever, but Academy Award nominated composer Alan Silvestri replaced him before the film was released.

As for John Cusack, Identity proved to be one of the most high-profile movies of his career, changing course from the romantic comedy lead to a supporting player in an ensemble thriller. Since 2003, Cusack has fared well on film in roles like playing Richard Nixon in 2013’s The Butler, and on television in the 2020 Amazon Prime Video science fiction series Utopia, where he portrayed the character of Dr. Kevin Christie for eight episodes. Cusack is currently in pre-production on My Only Sunshine, a comedy thriller costarring actor J.K. Simmons.