US (dir. Chris Moore)
Cast: Don McManus, Ryanne Duzich, Teddy Dunn, Daniel Franzese, Agnes Bruckner, Taryn Manning
Synopsis: While celebrating a graduation at a secluded vacation home, a group of college students find themselves targeted by a sadistic killer who forces them to play a deadly game of killing one another in order to survive.
Review: I typically do not partake in the After Dark Horrorfest because the films are not available in my area (or perhaps they are and I just don’t know about where they are playing and when). If I do get a chance to catch this yearly film fest dedicated to independent horror films, I would most certainly take that opportunity. Something like “Lake Mungo” or “The Broken” would be a treat to see in theatres, however something as bland and boring as “Kill Theory” would be torturous to have to sit through in a theatre setting – mainly because you can’t hit pause to get up and do something else more exciting and enthralling than watching “Kill Theory”, like preparing your tax return or watching paint dry.
What could a movie that blends “Battle Royale” with “Saw” have to offer its audience? As “Kill Theory” shows us, the answer is: nothing. There is absolutely nothing this film has to offer an audience of dedicated horror film enthusiasts other than showing us that it can rip off past films and recycle a central concept that has already been done to death. There really isn’t much that makes this film entertaining or enjoyable or even remotely scary. You also don’t even get a proper build up of mood or a feeling of claustrophobia which one would think is essential in a film where a group of friends are basically confined to a house and forced to kill one another until there is a last man, or woman, standing. The characters either come off as, or are ultimately revealed to be, douchebag jerks, whiny pussies, sluts, unrealistically self-sacrificing do-gooders, or deceptive liars. So in a sense, yes there is character development, but pretty much every character (with the exception of probably only one) goes from being unlikable to downright despicable and you are virtually left with no one to empathize with or feel remotely sorry for. Oh, and the script is a piece of shit too. It seems like so little effort was put into the writing, and the results are painfully obvious on screen.
The film starts off with a psychiatrist and his patient in what would appear to be a session. The psychiatrist goes on about the patient’s back story (yeah, uh, as if he forgot it) which involves his decision to sacrifice the lives of his two best friends during a mountain climbing trip that went awry in order to save his own life. The psychiatrist appears to be content with releasing his patient and closing his file as it is his professional opinion that his patient is a-okay. We then cut to a scene where a group of annoying, obligatorily sex-obsessed 20-somethings arrive at a luxurious lakeside cottage to celebrate their graduation. You can totally guess what’s going to happen next, right? Yup. Thought so.
It would appear as though our unlucky patient from the opening scene who once upon a time offed his own buddies for the sake of his survival is out to prove to the psychiatrist his theory that when given the ultimatum of life or death, any person would kill another person to save themselves. Thus, the killer is proving his kill theory (hence the name of the film). Clever set up? Not really. Does the film execute this premise well? It tries, I’ll give it that, but for the most part, it fails because the characters or so fucking unlikable. They aren’t even characters really, they are more like walking talking stereotypes (alas, minus a token black guy). There’s the jock, the slut, the good girl, the good boy, the fat loser, the happy go lucky couple, and another slut in case we get bored of the first or the first one dies before we get a chance to really see how deep her character really is (hint: shallow end of the pool kind of depth). With characters as grossly predictable as this, I really don’t care if they live or die. I don’t like them, am interested in, or empathize with them enough to feel sorry for them if they die nor do I hate them enough to want them to die brutally. I felt basically indifferent to them for the entire length of the movie, even during the “twist” at the end of the movie which really was pretty stupid anyways.
I did like the first kill scene quite a bit (girl gets throat slashed while being filmed on a hand held video camera after deciding not to kill her passed out, jock boyfriend to save herself instead), although it left me wondering if this truly was the first time in horror movie history where a sole brunette female is killed off first, and three equally moronic looking blondes are left in her stead.
There’s actually one point where a blonde cannot seem to grasp what these words, clearly etched into the dead brunette’s abdomen, say. She actually says,”what the fuck does that say?” I kid you not… check it out below.
Now, although the movie is by no means fantastic, the script terrible, the set up lame and predictable, the characters downright nauseating, and there’s a fat guy who is literally the world’s biggest pussy who cries, moans, and bitches his way through the entire film – whether he’s losing at a video game, threatening people with a gun, or being “tormented” by the sounds of someone turning the pages of a magazine – there still are some excellent death scenes and a rather unpredictable final girl.
So although it is not a completely terrible film – solely because there are some extreme death scenes, particularly one little doozy where a girl smashes her boyfriend’s face in with a hefty shovel – it’s not fantastic either. The set up is so overdone at this point that I almost feel nauseated when a film starts off with 20-somethings holed up in a house. There is also a bit of a gap in logic in the killer’s master plan to keep everyone stuck in the house: did he really assume no one would bring a cellphone? I mean they try using the land line phone on one occasion (naturally it doesn’t work) but no one ever tries using their cell phones. I also was somewhat baffled as to why the killer even bothered trying to prove his kill theory on such an unstable group of kids, because by the end of the film it’s pretty much revealed that they all just fucking hated each other to begin with (even the couples!), so having them kill each other off wasn’t really proving his theory anyways, it was more or less proving that people are more than willing to kill people who have profoundly wronged them. Maybe if this was a movie in which a husband and wife couple, or family members were made to kill each other in order to survive it would have been a more deeply disturbing film, but in the end it really is not.