Orphan Killer, The (2011)
Written and directed by Matt Farnsworth
Marcus Miller is a bad man. I think we need to establish that fact before we go any further with this. If you take nothing else out of this review of The Orphan Killer, know this: Marcus Miller is a bad man.
For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Marcus Miller is The Orphan Killer (and just to clarify, he is a killer who was orphaned, not a killer of orphans...although throughout the film he didn't seem too fussy about whom he was filleting). Created by Matt Farnsworth, Miller is a killing machine hell-bent on finding, torturing and (eventually) killing his sister.
The Orphan Killer contains a lot of your typical slasher elements, but it does have some unique qualities that stand out. It's the story of a pair of siblings, Marcus and Audrey, who are orphaned after their parents are violently murdered in a home invasion. Audrey adapts well to the orphanage and is eventually adopted. Marcus does not and is left alone at the hands of the less-than-nurturing nuns running the home. As his sister goes off to greener pastures, Marcus, who already has a penchant for violence, has that ember stoked by regular beatings from his guardians, not to mention the fact he's forced to wear a mask as a form of punishment. Why don't they just put the butcher knife in his hand and give stabbing lessons? Silly nuns.
The adult Marcus Miller is played nicely by David Backus. And as mentioned in our The Orphan Killer preview article, I've never seen anyone swing an axe as hard, or with such bad intentions, as this new serial killer. Goddamn, he simply pulverizes his victims. Miller is a faceless murderer, the kind we've seen several times before, but conversely to some masked slashers of the past, he speaks. And it's the fact that he verbalizes his intentions and sufferings that makes his character that much more chilling, especially in the climactic scenes with his sweet sister.
The Orphan Killer creator/director Matt Farnsworth definitely had an agenda with this film. His goal was to create a character he could build a franchise around. And call me crazy, but I think he did that with Marcus Miller. The dude has a cool back-story, crazy eyes and serious bad intentions. His ire at the Catholic Church also leads to some visually intense (and marketable) images, not the least of which is Marcus' idea of how to combat pedophilia among the clergy. (Put it this way... it's hard to diddle anyone if you don't have hands. Get it?)
Now to keep ourselves grounded in reality here, The Orphan Killer does have its shortcomings. It is a low-budget offering and often looks like it. I would say Farnsworth did the best he could with what he had available to him. And it's certainly not a study in brilliant acting or intricate storytelling, but The Orphan Killer focuses on what it's good at - bloodletting. This isn't a Shakespearean drama, after all. This is a movie from a guy trying to create an iconic horror character. And whether Marcus Miller ever steps foot into another film or not is yet to be seen, but I think Farnsworth certainly did enough with this picture to warrant a crack at a sequel. And judging by The Orphan Killer's 100,000+ Facebook fans, he's doing something right.
Overall I think the characters stand out here more than the film as a whole. And that might not be a terrible thing. Marcus is a quality character, and his prime target, Audrey (played by the sexy Diane Foster), is certainly memorable as well. She's as feisty a victim as you'll find and proves to be a bit more of a challenge than big brother expected.
The bottom line on The Orphan Killer is this: You're getting a new slasher, one with a lot of similarities to some of our favorite characters of the past, but with its own unique spin. Know that at times the acting is somewhat lacking but serviceable, and the F/X range from questionable to brilliant, depending on the scene. There are some really cool practical effects here and some that fall short, but again, it works overall.
Take it for what it is, and you might just find yourself falling for The Orphan Killer. If you can get past some of the warts, you're going to find a couple of characters you can really get into. And did you say you wanted blood? I think AC/DC said it best: "If you want blood... you got it!"
3 out of 5
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