Directed by Byron C. Miller
Norman Bates, Patrick Bateman, John Doe, Hannibal Lecter – I could go on and on with examples of the perfect cinematic psychopath set in motion, and the aforementioned names are just a nutty sampling of some of the most chemically imbalanced minds to ever wander across the big screen.
What I’m babbling about is the fact that it takes a special kind of soul to give that “off the reservation” type of performance and an even more proficient mind to mold a character into someone that you’d be terrified to encounter in an empty back alleyway. Just tossing someone into the role of a lunatic and expecting him or her to run with it is quite the Herculean wish. If you can’t make me believe, then I’m unwilling to buy into it, and unfortunately with Byron C. Miller’s psychological mind-bender The Anatomy of Monsters, what is an essentially decent story is dragged to its death by a metric-ton of stagnant dialogue and two characters that are as far removed from the identities of killers as one could hope to believe.
Jesse Lee Keeter plays Andrew, a reserved yet ticking time-bomb type of serial killer – his impulses are raw, and while his motivation is of a savage nature, he readies himself for a night out by carefully primping his features to make himself more appealing to his potential prey. The victim in question is Sarah (Tabitha Bastien), a beautiful and mysterious stranger who strolls into the bar where Andrew has set up shop for the evening, and just as he has chalked up his luck into the “nonexistent” category, a conversation is struck and the offer is accepted to split a motel room… good times indeed.
After a brief flirtatious period from Sarah, Andrew’s true temperament comes to light, and our brunette (eh, blonde) has now become a captive audience to the wanton appetite of a murderer. However, all is definitely not as it seems here as instead of begging for her life, Sarah takes a different approach and begins to tell her story – the story of a young girl who was clearly damaged at a young age, killing family pets and setting the stage for a recreational venture into the art of lawless slaying. She speaks freely about beating a homeless man to death and takes pride in her talents, offering Andrew the opportunity to better himself at his art if he will simply listen to her.
Their counsel at times lags with an unrepentant pace, with the occasional look into both of their exploits, and while the actions are interesting to partake in, the stride in which we’re served it comes at a lackluster speed. Our double-headed lead acting threat looks as of they’re trying FAR too hard to convince the audience that they are stone-cold sociopaths and would have been better suited as bystanders as opposed to remorseless executioners. There are some redeeming qualities to Miller’s direction – his sense of brutality is a nice touch and he doesn’t hold back with the display of certain killings, but it would be nice to have seen more of them. For a 90+-minute film, the viewer really gets an invasive look at two fractured psyches, and with a twist towards the close of the film that even a naked mole rat could have seen coming (they’re blind, get it?), I’ve got to deduce that the movie, while having the best of murderous intentions, barely offers a charge of simple assault.
2 out of 5