Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Christine Haeberman, Allen Andrews, Mary LeGault, Kathryn Playa
Directed by Drew Barnhardt
It’s so nice when an indie film actually does something different or interesting, or just showcases a filmmaker who obviously gives a shit. Because such a thing is a rarity these days, films like Murder Loves Killers Too are few and far between. But they’re just that much sweeter when they do finally show up.
Getting past the clunky title, which won’t really make any more sense when you see the movie, Murder Loves Killers Too is an indie with heart, style and a keen sense of when and how humor works should work horror. It never takes itself seriously, well maybe in the middle a bit (I’ll get to that in a minute), which leads to a damn good time from start to finish. Almost.
The premise is familiar, at best; five friends head out to an isolated cabin one of their number has rented for a weekend of booze, drugs and sex. How many times have we seen that simple premise beaten to death? What they don’t know is that Big Stevie (Andrews) also likes to utilize this cabin, though more as a hunting grounds than a retreat. There’s nothing all that menacing or imposing about Big Stevie, he just has a thing for killing kids and havingsex with girls who look like his daughter. Creepy? Oh hell yes, but still you can’t help but like him. He’s an everyday Joe who just has some strange, fatalistic kinks to him.
As their numbers dwindle rapidly, pretty soon only one girl is left, Aggie (Haebermann), whom we soon learn is only alive because of the aforementioned resemblance to his daughter. Once Aggie figures out what’s that Big Stevie is the reason she can’t find any of her friends, the film slows way, way down, almost to the point of deserving a generous helping of the fast forward button. It’s nothing but Aggie sneaking around the house, trying to avoid Stevie for what seems like a good half hour, but to be fair is probably half that. When he finally catches her, though, it’s almost worth it as Stevie speaks for the first time, explaining as calmly and normally as he can just what kind of predicament Aggie has found herself in. It’s a little ridiculous, but by this point in the film you should be both expecting and embracing that aspect of it. In truth, the scene reminded me a lot of the tonal shift in the original Toolbox Murders, just far less serious.
Barnhardt’s does a great job directing, aside form the drawn-out middle section, and takes chances most indie filmmakers would run screaming from. Like when the kids first get to the cabin and begin exploring; it’s all done in one long, continuous take. Nothing too impressive, perhaps, unless you stop and ponder how long something like that would take to choreograph and how many times they probably had to stop and start all over again from the top. That’s just one of many examples of Barnhardt’s stylistic approach to his movie, which goes a long way in keeping it both fresh and fun despite the overused setup.
Murder Loves Killers Too isn’t excessively gory, another element that helps set it apart from its contemporaries. Usually a small budget and a helluva lot of blood is all an indie director needs to make his or her “film”, but because Barnhardt chose style over slaughter, the lack of gory death isn’t a detriment. I wish more up and coming directors would take the time to set up good shots and find decent actors rather than worry how many gallons of plasma are needed for their next shot.
Though not a perfect movie by any means, Murder Loves Killers Too is a (mostly) fast-paced good time that showcases a talent I hope we see more from in the near future. Be sure to hit up the film’s official site for more images and background on it, and we’ll of course be keeping you abreast of any developments so you can figure out when you’ll be able to dig on it, too!
3 1/2 out of 5
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