Few killers have terrorized more people than the Beltway Snipers.
The story of the murderous pair who got their start in Tacoma is now the subject of a feature film.
In October 2002, John Allen Muhammad and his young protégé, Lee Boyd Malvo, killed 10 randomly selected victims in the Washington, D.C. area. While authorities were erroneously searching for a white truck the killers were operating out of a blue Chevrolet Caprice they had modified into a mobile sniper’s hide.
The film, “Blue Caprice,” premiered last week at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. It’s a debut feature by New York-based French filmmaker Alexandre Moors, who was unavailable for an interview this week.
The movie begins on the Caribbean island of Antigua, where Muhammad met the teenaged Malvo. But it spends much of its time in Tacoma, according to Philip Cowan, the director of Tacoma’s Grand Cinema. Cowan saw the film last week at Sundance.
“Tacoma is about a third of the movie, but not apparently (filmed) anywhere in Tacoma,” Cowan said. “That was kind of disappointing to me.”
Muhammad spent 17 years in the South Sound. He married for the second time, raised three children, started a business that failed, saw his second marriage crumble into divorce, kidnapped his children and acquired a Bushmaster rifle from a Tacoma gun shop.
“Blue Caprice” portrays Muhammad’s grooming of Malvo in to a cold blooded killer – a soldier in the older man’s vendetta on perceived injustices and the people who he felt had wronged him.
One of those people was Isa Nichols. She had taken the side of Muhammad’s ex-wife in a child-custody dispute. After Muhammad brought Malvo back to Tacoma he had the younger man go to Nichols’ East Side Tacoma house on Feb. 16, 2002, armed with a gun.
But Nichols’ niece, Keenya Cook, 21, answered the door. Malvo killed her with a gunshot to the face. Malvo later testified it was Muhammad’s way of testing him.
“Blue Caprice” portrays that killing and some of the sniper murders. It ends with their capture. Muhammad was executed in 2009 for his crimes; Malvo is serving a life sentence.
“It’s a subtle movie,” Cowan said. “It’s not very violent.”
The film stars Isaiah Washington (“Grey’s Anatomy”) as Muhammad and Tequan Richmond (“Everybody Hates Chris”) as Malvo.
“Blue Caprice” generated a lot of buzz at Sundance. The Hollywood Reporter described the film as riveting and “a disturbing, masterfully controlled thriller.” The New York Times called it “an exploration of power, madness and grotesque paternalism.”
Cowan hopes to bring the film to Tacoma and hold post-screening discussions.
“It’s part of Tacoma’s history, even if it’s not a positive history,” he said.Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541 firstname.lastname@example.org