|Fresh-faced, wholesome, and wholly inscrutable, Tim O'Kelly, a seemingly novice and unlikely actor, is somehow perfect as Bobby Thompson.|
|Orlock, fresh out of bed and hung over, gets a taste of his own medicine.|
|All points converge at the Reseda Drive-In.|
Entering the house casually, unannounced, Bobby silently appraises the living room in which he grew up, taking his time with every photo and detail as though a stranger here. A faint yet buoyant chorus drifts in from down the hall, setting the table for supper, unaware of the curious movements of this familiar intruder.
During dinner with the family, Bobby tells them of today's excitement, of seeing Byron Orlock out on the street.
"Hey, guess who I saw coming home?"
"Did he scare you?"
"Yeah! No. I was driving towards the freeway and I saw him on the sidewalk talking."
The next morning, the Thompson men are up early and doing what they're best at, shooting targets out at the range. It's clear both father and son take their marksmanship very seriously.
As dad takes the aggrieved stroll out to the row of cans—this particular walk sticking in his craw more than most—Bobby reloads. Perhaps mulling over the lasting sting of that smirk, the older man starts setting them back up on their perch, never imagining his boy would be lining him up for a clean kill.
"Leave the light off."
"Bobby...what's going on?"
"Please leave the light off."
TARGETS, Peter Bogdanovich's first film (produced 3 years before his masterpiece, THE LAST PICTURE SHOW), was loosely based on the 1966 shooting rampage in which former marine Charles Whitman killed 16 people and injured 31, most of them from a sniper's nest high above the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. While it wasn't the first ever such case, it was modern America's introduction to the phenomenon of the mass shooting. TARGETS would be its first representation in the movies.
|"What are you typing?"|
In one of the most astonishing set pieces ever witnessed by 1968 audiences, Bobby's fantasies become reality.
And so the violence begins, a cold, methodical massacre (told from the perspective of the killer) that leaves audiences absolutely stunned and in awe of the prodigious talents of its young filmmaker.
With TARGETS, Bogdanovich wisely avoids attempting to explain the inexplicable, opting instead to simply capture it as it would happen, framing it—much like his friend and mentor, Alfred Hitchcock, might—in a manner intended to catch its audience flat-footed.
Of course, what had once shocked the nation to its core has now become all but routine, even tedious, often eliciting a perfunctory, "oh, here we go again", because what else is there to say at this point?
And after all the names and faces and stories become known—and we learn our monster had been a good neighbor and loving husband and son all along—we wind up right back where we began, with the same unanswerable question.