SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE (OCTOBER 10TH)
YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...
Time for an atypical slasher. Very atypical as it turns out. SGWKP was the follow-up film from the director who made the infamous “Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus” (Jack Perez), with a story from a writer from “”Scrubs” (Ryan Levin). If you can get your head around that, the film is not a slasher parody or balls-out laff-riot as you might expect. Instead it’s actually a comedic-horror-drama that encompasses a number of styles and messages … as well as a few gory murders. It stars Kevin Corrigan (“The Last Winter”, “Seven Psychopaths”) in the main role, with able support from Barry Bostwick (Brad from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”) and the late, great Karen Black (“Trilogy of Terror” and much, much more). There’s also a cameo from Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Bloody Binks), who fortunately/unfortunately doesn’t get the chance to say the line; “We-sa gonna die?!” It actually drew some attention and distinction on its release, due to a surprisingly high rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which even now stands at a very fresh 90%. This Indie was also notable for being made by a conglomerate of small production studios, and having genre hero John Landis as the executive producer. I hadn’t seen this yet, so it was another easy choice for the “31 Days” challenge…
Ken Boyd (Corrigan) is an anti-social loner, who barely utters a word to anyone, including his disappointed and snarky mother Ruth (Black). He has been recently released from a mental hospital after a suicide attempt and a bout of severe depression. The only reason he has a job is because his sole buddy Irv (Leo Fitzpatrick) has managed to wrangle a menial position at the local ice-cream parlour. This does mean that he has to suffer further ridicule and the humiliation of dressing up as an ice-cream cone for promotional work though. Ken is also troubled by the memory of an incident some time ago, where a gang of small-town bullies abused and tortured him. He fantasises about killing the dudes, and draws elaborate sketches showing him doing so. Then all of a sudden one of the bullies turns up in a garden with a hatchet in his head, after a ninja-like killer takes him out. Ken was seen prowling about on the night of the murder and is seen as a definite suspect, even as he obsesses about taking revenge on the remaining bullies. Meanwhile the unexpected appearance of his estranged 11 year-old daughter Amy (a winning performance from Ariel Gade who was in “AvP: Requiem” and the “Dark Water” remake) complicates matters. So does the attention from Brit Stephanie (Lucy Davis from “Wonder Woman”), which threatens to drag him out of his funk and back to normality. Meanwhile, the bodies are piling up…
It’s not hard to see why people, who may not normally be attracted to genre films, might be drawn to this offbeat “slasher”. It’s mish-mash of several ideas and tones, and pretty offbeat. Not offbeat in the OMFG way that something like “The Greasy Strangler” or “Antibirth” is, but in a slightly more sedate your-mum-could-watch-this-despite-the-decapitation-and-throat-slitting way. However, the mixture of tones and directions didn’t quite work for me, although I seem to be in a minority.
The storyline veers from straight-up slasher material, to absurdist comedy, to social commentary, to family drama. It’s all a bit bewildering to some extent, as you never know how to take the next scene. The overall slasher-“mystery” is certainly there, and you don’t need to be Sherlock to figure it out in all honesty, with the “detective” element of the plot being the weakest and most disappointing part. This juggles with several enjoyably bloody killings (but not too graphic), and a couple of pun-line filled crime-scene scenes; “I’ve got a splitting headache”, “Looks like something my Axe-wife might do”, etc. But for all that, it never crosses the line into overt parody.
Instead, the humour is tempered with surprisingly serious observations on how acute depression can affect a person, and how they can overcome it with support. It even covers how bullying can affect victims and those around them to some extent. Ken’s unexpected plunge into fatherhood is also given plenty of plot time, and to be fair it’s nicely handled (although to a level you would normally expect from family drama rather than a comedy-horror). But the sub-plot is helped by a lovely mature turn from Gade, who gives a great deal of likeability and truthfulness to the role, when she could have been played as an annoying brat.
The MVP in the cast however is Bostwick as the local sheriff, a thoroughly brilliant bit of acting where he deadpans his way through each of the scenes. Whether it’s putting his deputy down or declaring his intentions towards Ruth, his is the stand-out character in the film. On being told that Ken’s drawings calm him down, he responds; “For me it’s chess… I can’t play… but just thinking about it relaxes the shit out of me.” Or the WTF threat;”I’m gonna tear his skin off, and make him wear his own skin”. He’s like the Lloyd Bridges character in “Airplane”, but with more intelligence and some surprising knowledge about contemporary art.
Corrigan actually gives a quite nuanced study of an introverted man that gives out the right level of ambiguity. Davis is good but feels under-used, especially as she’s essentially playing her character (Dawn) from the original UK version of “The Office”. She’s all jittery, but hugely sincere and honest, and nobody can quite deliver a line like; “He’s a little wanker, isn’t he?” in the way that she does.
There’s a lot at play here, and the characters are very likeable. But for me, the varying tones just didn’t quite gel together. Some of the punchlines are genuinely funny, the fatherhood/new romance sub-plots are quite sweet, and the underlying depression theme is handled well. Even the (minimal) splatty murders are nicely mounted. But the central “mystery” is a bit of a bust, and the whole thing drags a little bit as all the elements are juggled at the same time. It’s well-made and well-acted and watchable, but as a whole it feels lacking in certain areas. Not bad, but this guy’s not on fire.