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I remember being impressed by the 1985 thriller Jagged Edge when I first watched it. The plot (in case you don't remember) involves a prominent Editor (Jeff Bridges) accused of killing his wife brutally. He hires a lawyer to defend him (Glenn Close) who falls in love with him, blurring her clarity about his guilt or innocence (hence providing much of the tension in the plot).

Early in the movie the audience sees the murder being committed, but the murderer hides their identity. As a police expert pointed out to me later there is no reason (in the movie) why the murderer needs to conceal their identity other than to deceive the audience until the reveal at the end. They kill any possible witness to the crime so there is no reason to hide their face.

Am I wrong or is there some internal logic to the concealment?

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I haven't seen the movie, but other than the big reveal at the end, it's also possible that the killer had his face hidden in case someone would happen to see him (either coming/going from the murder scene or else from a window). Other than that, I would have to agree that it's just a plot device.

  • The trouble with the "in case someone would see him" idea is that everyone who might was going to die. that is why it seems like a contrivance. – matt_black Mar 9 '12 at 23:56
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    @matt_black Well, apart from the neighbours walking by or peeking through their windows. – Napoleon Wilson Aug 23 '16 at 9:29
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It has been many years since I watched it but I think that the main reason is to keep the audience guessing.

In the character reason would be to conceal his identity in case somehow someone saw him or something unexpected happened. Remember that he was a smart meticulous character and would not leave things to chance, allowing everyone to see your face because you intend killing them is risky (what if there was someone hiding who got away?).

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The reason the killer wears a mask, is because he plans to frame another person (Bobby Slade) for the murders. He did not kill his first victim - Julie Jensen - whom he attacked in the same ritualistic manner as the murdered Mrs. Forrester. Julie Jensen would be a witness and implicate Bobby Slade in court. Bobby had slept with both women. Also, the killer - Mr. Forrester - wears a mask to kill his wife and her maid because, by remaining anonymous, it's easier to kill them - easier on his conscience - especially if he needs to lead a convincing double life for his attorney. Wouldn't it be easier to kill people you know, and live with it, if they don't know it's you?

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Just ordinary precaution would be quite enough.

Nobody can predict future. Even if the killer did manage to kill everyone he intended, there is no way he could be certain before the fact.

Any kind of unforeseen circumstance can arise at any moment, which can mess up his actions. He may stumble at a critical moment, miss the target, etc, whatever happens, there is a chance his intended victim can get away.

In addition, as said by Barry, obviously, if the killer is murdering someone where other people can even remotely possibly pass nearby, he can be seen either in action or close enough to the place to be linked to murder.

Really anyone not wearing a mask in a situation like that would qualify for Darwin award.

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