68 Kill Movie Review
Written by Shane D. Keene
Released by IFC Midnight
Directed by Trent Haaga
Written by Trent Haaga and Bryan Smith
2017, 95 minutes, Unrated
Released on VOD on August 4th, 2017
Matthew Gray Gubler as Chip
AnnaLynne McCord as Liza
Alisha Boe as Violet
Sheila Vand as Monica
Violence in film is a fine art that, when done well, can enhance, and even make a picture. Movies like Michael Winner’s original Death Wish, Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me, and Lucky McKee’s The Woman take blood and viscera, and sheer, shockwave brutality and elevate it to high creativity, allowing it to take center stage and become, in a way, a major character in and of itself. And Trent Haaga’s newest entry, 68 Kill from Snowfort Pictures attempts to do the same. Based on Bryan Smith’s 2013 novel of the same title, it’s a hyper-violent thrill ride, moving from woman to woman and class to class as it starts out with a $68,000 rip-off and eventually finds its way to the dirty underbelly of white-trash American society.
At its center is Chip, a hapless young man in love with Liza, a vicious, amoral prostitute with a desperate plan to change her lot in life. Matthew Gray Gubler, whom most will remember from the TV series, Criminal Minds, brings all his geeky charm and awkward sensitivities to the role as he chases his man-parts from woman to woman and violence upon violence, following along like a puppy dog after its mother’s leaking teats. Repeatedly shocked and terrified by sudden outbursts of in-your-face violence, he nevertheless hangs on, seeming almost to be an awe-struck observer, unable to turn away from the atrocious brutality that’s perpetrated mostly by the female characters in the film.
In a way, 68 Kill is a rough character study somewhat focused on femininity and masculinity. At first, Chip is a hugely submissive individual, blinded by Liza’s beauty and willing to help her commit a horrendous double homicide in the process of stealing 68,000 dollars from her sugar daddy. Moving with a pace and mood that are similar to that of Jeremy Saulnier’s brilliant movie, Blue Ruin, but on a smaller canvas, we watch Chip transform from submissive geek to angry and determined avenger as the women around him begin to clash in extremely violent fashion, leaving massive amounts of blood and death in their wake; greed and spite driving them to acts of such horrendous savagery as to leave the viewer almost breathlessly riding the edge of their seat, knowing that mayhem and calamity are just around every corner and each character is a potential corpse at any given point in the movie.
In the end, while I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s as accomplished as the aforementioned Saulnier film, I will tell you that if you like your movies jammed full of action, barbarous violence, and buckets of blood, this is probably for you. With a decent storyline and an enormously satisfying, shockingly brutal climax, it’s a jet-fuel driven road trip nightmare through a landscape made surreal by the tale that flows through its scenery like gore and viscera. Trent Haaga puts Chip through a special kind of hell, at turns humorous and horrifying. 68 Kill explodes onto the screen in shades of black and red, bloody and mean and custom made for a swift Saturday night viewing, popcorn at the ready and asthma inhaler handy in case you find yourself hyperventilating. Highly recommended fun for all fans of hardcore horror.