SEPTEMBER 4, 2008
Ever since Seven, it's like no one can make a serial killer movie anymore unless it takes place in a big city, has a brooding cop as the hero, a killer with "good" intentions, etc... I plan to make a serial killer thriller that takes place in the woods, the hero is just some kid, and his motives are pretty flimsy. Oh wait, I guess that's just a slasher movie.
Anyway, movies like The Killing Gene (aka W Delta Z) are pretty much a dime a dozen, and when you add that to my already over-saturated intake of horror movies, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that I was pretty damn bored by most of the film. However, it finally comes to life once the actual killer shows up (sort of a spoiler ahead, though the back of the DVD more or less does that anyway).
Selma Blair is the killer, something they pretty much tell us less than halfway through the film, but she doesn't really appear until the final 20 minutes or so. And it's a shame, because her scenes are the best in the film, and the filmmaker's decision to keep her out of the story is a big part of why it doesn't quite work as well as it should for most of the running time. Since we aren't seeing killings, and the killer isn't being chased, the entire movie consists of our two uninteresting heroes walking around and talking to people about things that already happened. It's like a grimy version of a Law & Order episode, and not one of the good ones about crazy daughters who kill their dads because he found out she got knocked up by her brother or whatever. Stellan Skarsgard, an actor I usually like, pretty much spends the entire movie muttering and glowering at people, and Melissa George* just plays the "I'm not cut out for this OK I guess I am now" role that we've also seen a million times. It doesn't help that director Tom Shankland banished tripods from the set and will often do things like shoot a cigarette rolling around on the ground for 10 seconds straight for no reason.
The nice thing about the end though, is that it gives a lot of the stuff we've seen a slightly new meaning, and if the movie wasn't so leaden-paced, I would actually be happy to give it another look. And I really appreciate the lack of a Saw-style rapid fire flashback montage that shows those double-meaning clips in succession, for the idiots in the audience who can't really remember things that happened five minutes ago.
The movie also contains one of the silliest mistakes in recent memory. A killer's accomplice is driving away, and George is shooting at him from behind. Somehow, his windshield is shot out, despite no bullet hole in the back shield that would allow such a thing to occur. Also, the movie makes a more unintentional error by copying a plot element from Fletch (cops dealing drugs by making fake arrests). If you're boring me, the last thing you want to do is make me start thinking about one of the most entertaining films of all time.
Not sure if there is an unrated cut anywhere, but the R one is pretty choppy - for a Dimension EXTREME! title it feels pretty content with not showing throat slashings, vomit, etc. It's also shot on HD, so there's not much to enjoy on a technical level either, since the entire movie is set at night, something HD isn't exactly the best choice for in the first place. That said, it's a damn fine DVD transfer (black levels are perfect - a rarity for a film this dark as DVD places will try to compensate by "lightening" the image a bit, resulting in washed out blacks), and the making of is brief but pretty informative.
So I dunno, I really dug the ending, and I liked the basic idea behind the killer's executions, but I was bored to tears by the first hour or so, which had no suspense, no action, and no interesting characters. Your call.
What say you?
*In my very first junket for Bloody Disgusting, George told us she didn't consider herself a horror actress. Funny, because four of her last five movies have been horror films, with another two on the way. Damnable liar!