KillerKiller Movie Review
Written by Daniel Benson
Released by Jinx Media
Written and directed by Pat Higgins
2007, 75 Minutes, Not Rated
Dutch Dore-Boize as Lawrence
Cy Henty as Rosebrook
Richard Collins as Perry
Rami Hilmi as Wallis
Danny James as Victor
James Kavaz as Harris
Scott Denyer as Samuel
Danielle Laws as Helle
Nick Page as Nick
London. Crowded, sweaty, dirty London. It takes something worthwhile to get me out of the comfort of comparatively rural middle-England, so Pat Higgins' follow-up to TrashHouse had a lot to live up to. Parking my car at Euston Station, I hop on a tube for a short journey to the central London screen where KillerKiller will be shown. On the way I try to calculate whether it would have been cheaper to burn my car at the roadside and buy a new one for the ride home, rather than pay the exorbitant parking charges of the capital.
At my final destination I fight my way through the throng to the British Film Institute where I'm greeted by an enthusiastic Pat Higgins. It's a poorer turnout than he would have hoped for, but he is decidedly upbeat and keen to get his latest project shown to the waiting group. For those that didn't turn up — it was their loss.
The lights dim in the screening room and KillerKiller opens with what looks like a typical 'serial killer stalking the babysitter' scene. The masked stranger follows the young girl upstairs, and watches as she showers. Creeping quietly closer, he takes a tight grip on his butcher's knife and...
I won't spoil the ending of the scene, but let's just say it doesn't pan out in typical Friday the 13th style.
"Why is my cell door open?" calls Lawrence (Dutch Dore-Boize), to no-one in particular. For the pedantic detail spotters among the audience, the answer is clear; there's no lock on the door. Nitpicking aside, I allow myself to be drawn in to the story and Rosebrook (Cy Henty) pokes his head around the door and answers Lawrence with an almost mysterious "They all are". And we're here, inside a high security prison, the only inmates — serial killers. But something is different.
Last night, at lock-up, the prison was fully staffed with guards and there were other prisoners present too. Now, only a handful remain, and the prison is run-down and crumbling, paint flakes from the walls, no doors are locked, no-one can keep them there. But they do stay there, due to the impenetrable, freezing mist that has enveloped the entire facility, allowing no-one to leave.
Now that the remaining inmates are free to roam, someone, or something is killing them off one by one. If it wasn't bad enough that there is a risk of dying, everyone has a conviction for murder; making the list of suspects the same as the list of potential victims. As the most likely suspect is murdered, the imprisoned killers realise the truth; a vengeful spirit takes the guise of one of their victims and wreaks her revenge. There will be no escape until justice is served.
I'm a big fan of Pat Higgins' debut feature, TrashHouse, and I'd been looking forward to seeing what he would offer in his follow-up movie. As it happens, his follow-up movie has turned out to be two movies, shot back-to-back. Don't ever let anyone say he doesn't work hard for his money.
Although TrashHouse suffered a little from lack of budget and some home-made CGI, its originality and enthusiasm more than made up for its minor weaknesses. In KillerKiller there's a similar originality, plenty of enthusiasm and what appears to be a bigger budget (or a similar budget, spent more shrewdly). And a large chunk of that budget went on the fantastic location, a disused Victorian asylum. There is so much character in the building that it almost becomes a distraction to the characters onscreen. Really there couldn't be a more perfect backdrop for this story (lack of cell door locks notwithstanding).
I admit to raising an eyebrow when I heard that Cy Henty would be one of the leads in KK as I found him one of the weaker characters in TrashHouse, and rather wooden. He's the exact opposite in this movie, and plays a superb part alongside Dutch Dore-Boize (a sort of low-budget Jason Statham, but one that can actually act). And these two actors form the keystone of the movie, both of them being ruthless, sensitive, and amusing when required. The interaction between the pair is as good as some of the exchanges between Jules and Vincent in Pulp Fiction. There's one scene in particular where Lawrence (Dore-Boize) is explaining his taste for killing, and ends up on a monologue using glass butt-plugs as an analogy for going "just a little bit too far".
The rest of the cast backs up the two main characters well. Richard Collins, who did a respectable job as the lead lunatic in TrashHouse, goes one further as Perry, a retarded and child-like killer who swings wildly between mildly disturbing, and comic relief. There are some great arguments between minor characters Samuel and Victor (Scott Denyer and Danny James respectively), a pair of serial killers who worked together.
"You killed cheerleaders? How did you kill cheerleaders when you live in England?" asks Lawrence.
"Well, we had to travel a lot. We didn't have many victims, but we racked up the frequent flier miles" comes the reply.
Really, the only slight letdown is the killer herself. Danielle Laws as Helle looks the part, due to some fantastic contact lenses, but she lacks the screen presence to make her really menacing.
With all the comedy I keep mentioning, you could be forgiven for thinking that KK is very tongue-in-cheek. That's not the case. This movie is dark, and by Pat Higgins' own admission, the darkest of the movies he's made to date. There were times I felt my heart beating faster due to the tension within the walls of the asylum, and it's been a while since a movie has done that to me. There is ample gore when the serial killers meet their individual fates, and none of the kills are rendered with any humour, just straight down the line terror. The amusing moments come at exactly the right time and never detract from the seriousness of the story, they provide just the right release like exhaling after holding your breath for a while.
In recent years, it looks like the classic role of the serial killer is under threat. Kevin Kangas' Hunting Humans gave us a serial killer being hunted by another of the same. Showtime's latest hit series "Dexter" follows a forensic scientist, with a passion for serial killing, being taunted by one of his own. Now KillerKiller, puts another nail in the coffin as a vengeful spirit kills off the killers.
Watch out Freddy. Watch out Jason. Helle's coming...