This is a creepy and slightly amusing B-flick featuring John Lithgow as dutiful husband and father Carter, AND his evil brother Cain, AND their sadistic psychologist father. They are all in on the patriarch's plan to abduct children for the purpose of subjecting them to traumatizing situations and pinpoint the source of split personality disorder. When a family friend of Carter's calls the premise of the research crazy, he tries to defend it but Cain shows up and kills her. Carter feels mortified, allows Cain to dispose of the body and take the child to their father. Other instances occur with other mothers frequenting the same playground as Carter’s family but they all follow the same cycle; an unsuspecting mom trusts Carter, Carter gets close to ending them, and then Cain steps in for the killing and disposing of the body.
|Lithgow as Carter|
|Lithgow as Cain|
|Lithgow as Dr. Nix and the fishbowl-angled camera|
Stakes are raised when Carter’s own daughter Amy is the one being abducted and his wife, Jenny, steps in to protect her daughter, even if it is from her own husband. In the middle of it all, a past flame of Jenny’s comes into the picture to see if he can reconcile their relationship and rather than tell him to bugger off, Jenny realizes that she still has feelings for him despite being married to a thoughtful and giving husband.
The only exposure to Lithgow’s resume I’d had before this was watching and enjoying 3rd Rock From the Sun, so I only knew him as a funny old dude. I knew that he had an appreciation for Shakespeare and was a renowned actor in some niche, and Raising Cain is really a testament to his acting diversity. Each character contains his own agenda, facial expressions, speech pattern, even their own distorted camera angle and Lithgow is excellent in capturing them all. I enjoyed this as a thriller and as a former high school drama nerd, searching for the ultimate character-acting high.