OCTOBER 12, 2008
The plot description for King Of The Hill (aka El Rey De La Montaña in its native Spain) made it sound like Trigger Man, so I was happy that it was the first film scheduled for today’s Screamfest (actually the 2nd, but I had already seen Spine Tingler so I skipped it – great doc about William Castle – see it ASAP!). If it was a snoozefest like Trigger Man, I’d have a better chance of staying awake at 2 pm than at 8 or so. And while hardly a great film, it’s better than the other film, and had just enough of the goods to keep it afloat once it became a bit repetitive.
The first 40-50 minutes are the best. We meet our hero (Leonardo Sbaraglia), he fucks an insanely cute girl (María Valverde) in a bathroom (whom he had just met), and then a sniper begins his terrifying attack from atop a mountain. I myself have an irrational fear of snipers, so these early scenes kept me on the edge of my seat, for lack of a more generic term. But then around halfway through, our hero and the girl (also under the sniper’s fire) are arrested and placed in a cop car. The two cops are taken out, and I was like “holy shit, this is gonna be awesome – they’re stuck in the car and the sniper’s got them in his sights!” But director Gonzalo López-Gallego apparently has no patience, and they are free within minutes, and the rest of the movie is more or less a chase sequence around the forest. There are still some great little setpieces (like when one of them is trapped under a rock in plain view of the killer), but it just gets rather repetitive.
What really drags it down though is when the film suddenly switches focus to our killer. The revelation of “who” he is isn’t all that shocking, and spending 10-15 straight minutes with him isn’t all that interesting. It picks up again once the focus returns to our hero (the finale, in and around a small housing development, is pretty suspenseful), but damage has still been done. I really wanted to have a claustrophobic segment to the film, but Gallego is content to have everyone constantly running around. Even the sniper eventually leaves his perch.
Being a Halo fan, I took some enjoyment from how the finale is set up. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say that if you’ve ever lost on Shotty Snipers to a little kid, you will definitely identify with the film. It also gave me an idea for a new match style on Halo (or any shooter really). It couldn’t be called King of the Hill, because that’s already used (HILL CONTROLLED!) but essentially you’d have one player as the sniper, who is perched high above the rest of the map. Everyone else has no weapons, but if they can get to the “safe zone”, they win. If the sniper kills everyone before anyone reaches the zone, he wins. I think it would be awesome. Fucking hot chick in the bathroom optional.
What say you?