By EW Staff
Updated November 14, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

While the movie version of ”Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” failed to capture the wee hours menace of Savannah, Ga., we’ve got higher hopes for this small whodunit. The Southern gothic locale is ”like the eighth character in the movie,” says Kinnear. ”There’s a haunted vibe and unusual spirit to the town that we tried to use in the film.” Fitting, since the premise of the estimated $10 million movie is such a creepy one.

Blanchett plays a recently widowed mother whose paranormal gift reveals the secrets of some of her neighbors. One of them is a tormented wife (Swank) whom she advises to leave her bullying husband (Reeves). Another is an elementary school principal (Kinnear) whose young fiancée (Katie Holmes) has vanished. The film marks Swank’s first movie since winning the Best Actress Oscar for ”Boys Don’t Cry.” ”She certainly copped an immediate attitude,” jokes Kinnear. ”I think she’d finished shooting by the time she won. Either that, or she just decided not to return to Savannah.” GOOD SIGN Having made ”A Simple Plan,” director Raimi is certainly comfortable with sophisticated, spooky material. THEN AGAIN Anyone see his last movie, ”For Love of the Game”? Now THAT was frightening.