JANUARY 1, 2008
Happy New Year... nothing has changed at all. You need a new desk calendar (assuming you keep up with it; mine is currently on November 18th) and you’ll probably write the wrong year on your rent check today. That’s about all that’s different, yet most of you probably went out last night and drank; spending your hard earned money in order to honor a clock.
Anyway, since I didn’t party, I am not hungover and thus in a happy mood, which has to be why I found The Kill House so engaging. As I consult my notes and actually THINK about the movie, there is absolutely nothing good about any of it (almost every one of my notes ends in a question mark, in other words, my reaction to the scene/event in question was simply “huh?”), but I was thoroughly entertained and even sort of charmed by this bizarre little movie.
For starters, the film’s opening credits spend at least two straight minutes establishing that they are in San Francisco. Which is fine, but only that and the following scene take place there. The rest of the film is, I assume, set in Los Angeles. It’s quite obviously LA just from the scenery (West Hollywood hills, best as I can tell), and while they never actually reveal the intended setting, the main character goes to Beverly Hills seemingly every other day, and the hospital that incoherently factors into the film quite a few times is clearly labeled “Hollywood Medical Center”. San Fran is never seen again. Whatever.
As for the hospital, you got me. At one point the Final Girl’s brother suddenly complains of chest pains (he also suffers from Lupus for some reason) and goes to the hospital, then just gets up and leaves while still wearing his gown. At another point, the lead detective goes there to kiss someone goodnight (who this person is is none of our business). And the film’s nonsensical epilogue features the killer wearing a wig and breaking into a patient’s room to steal his money (he’s also limbless, for the hell of it).
Speaking of wigs, in one of the film’s stranger plot developments (which speaks volumes, if you’ve read the above paragraph), our wannabe Janet Leigh character who gets killed a half an hour in is clearly wearing a red wig. This is sort of explained when she gets a phone call from her doctor, and she says “the results are in? Is it cancer?” And the doctor says that she can’t tell her that over the phone. So the wig is to cover her bald head from chemo, right? Wrong. A. We still see her real hair under it, and B. if she didn’t even definitely HAVE cancer yet, why would she already be taking chemotherapy? Doesn’t matter, she gets killed moments later, and thus we never know if she has cancer or not.
The film is also significant for having what may be a record amount of full frontal female nudity in a film that has not one sex scene. Our lead (another oddity – how often do you see the Final Girl in a slasher movie even go topless, let alone completely nude) is constantly baring all in an attempt to entice the family’s groundskeeper, a man who was convicted of murder and now has to pee in a cup as part of his probation (....? Hey at this point, anything goes in this movie). And at one point I thought she was flirting with her brother (hey-o!), but at any rate there is no bedroom action whatsoever in the film.
As for the killer (who also appears briefly nude, who is also like 50 years old and not very attractive, and is also the film’s director), I can’t even begin to understand her motive behind most of her kills. Killing the rival real estate agent makes sense, as does the owner of a property she wants to sell, and to a lesser extent, the Lupus brother, who sort of stumbles on her devious plans. But why does she kill a couple who plans on buying one of the houses? And even dumber, why does she kill the guy she had just, two scenes earlier, set up to take the blame for the killings???
The questions don’t end there. Why does the groundskeeper guy have a black eye in some scenes but not others? Where did he get it to begin with? Why did they cast an overweight (but cute) girl to play a character whose biggest character trait is that she rides horses? Why the extended scene of the killer kidnapping some schoolgirls to pass them off as her own (a scene that involves terrorism and several threats to cut off the girls’ parents heads) to someone she is about to kill anyway? Why name a character Mark Harmon? Why all the transsexual jokes and references in the film’s first half hour? Why the lesbian cop partnered with the effeminate male cop? Why ANYTHING in this movie?
The deleted scenes are no help. Not only is it impossible to tell where any of them would occur in the film (they’re not even in order, since the final two in the collection feature a character who was killed a half an hour in), but few last more than a couple seconds. And I can’t tell why they were considered any less relevant or worthy than the ones left in the film, such as the one titled “The Secret Life of Lettie” (the detective), which consists of nothing but the woman happily buying an ice cream from a truck.
But, I swear, it’s awesome. As you can tell, there’s nothing good I can say about it (though the DV looks pretty good). Even the back of the DVD is confusing (there’s an asterisk next to “special features”, but it doesn’t have any sort of connecting footnote; the ratio is listed as a “4x3 1.77:1 letterbox presentation”, which doesn’t even make any goddamn sense). But yet, I wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s just so goddamn weird in a very lazy way.
Also, I should note that the only reason I watched this movie in the first place is because the cover, which makes it look like a Saw film (same font and color scheme), has the tagline “Escrow Just Closed”. Not only is that the least foreboding tagline in horror movie history, but it also led me to believe that the film might possibly be the pinnacle of real estate horror, something faithful HMAD readers know is a “favorite” of mine. And in a non-sort of way, it truly is.
What say you?