A high-school senior with an unhealthy interest in the Holocaust recognizes a fellow bus rider as a former concentration-camp commander. (The amazing coincidences don't stop there: the ex-Nazi will later share a hospital room with one of his Jewish prisoners.) The boy, a moral midget, offers his silence in exchange for all the grisly details. Inert psychological thriller, from a Stephen King novella, fails to penetrate either character. Ian McKellen is strictly theatrical, Brad Renfro strictly amateur, and director Bryan Singer is sure to disappoint those who deluded themselves about his Usual Suspects. The title can hardly help but evoke the voice of Jimmy Stewart in Hitchcock's Vertigo ("You were a very apt pupil ...a very apt pupil"), and McKellen sings a snatch of "Que Sera, Sera" from the Master's The Man Who Knew Too Much. No luster rubs off. 1998.

Duncan Shepherd

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