Studio: Brain Damage Films
Director: Dale Trott
Writer: S.C. Farrow, Kim Standring Jacobs
Producer: S.C. Farrow, Dale Trott, Kim Standring Jacobs, Stephen J. Jacobs
Stars: Damien E. Lipp, Susie Kazda, Katrina Gow, Joshua Dean Williams, Dean Kirkright, James Mason, Aston Elliot, Peter Flaherty, Michael Edward Williams
Traumatized by a devastating car accident, a young man begins foreseeing the deaths of people in his life while watching B-movies.
Whenever a teenage party in a movie ends with someone insisting that s/he is okay to drive, particularly after making a fuss about giving up the keys, a timer begins ticking down to the inevitably devastating crash destined to follow. That is the fate that befalls inebriated smart-ass Preston when his sister Shelby convinces her boyfriend Jared to ignore better sense and get in the car with her brother and two more friends anyway. A bit of ill-advised horseplay later and the countdown hits zero, resulting in a wreck that injures everyone involved to varying degrees.
Jared takes the biggest beating. Six months later and Jared’s hopes of attending university are crushed by the fact that he has lost his ability to read while gaining the need to walk with a cane. Jared’s limp is joined by a perpetually sullen frown, compounded by his mother beginning a questionable relationship with the counselor assigned to his rehabilitation. Perhaps worse still, Jared is trapped not just in a dismal personal life, but also inside a world of seemingly eternal gloom.
Save for Jared’s girlfriend Shelby, “Killervision” is populated exclusively by characters either depressed or depressing. Jared moans at his mother for dating his counselor. Mom bitches back about Jared’s excessive drinking. The teenagers’ friend Markus starts fistfights without clear motivation. And even when Jared is merely offering a potentially lifesaving warning, his mate Darren tells him to get lost. Grumpy, pushy, and angry are fitting descriptors for the people of “Killervision,” as everyone is preoccupied with complaining, bullying, self-loathing or some other state of generally unenviable misery.
It’s no wonder that Jared’s preferred form of escapism is through the TV via his favorite genre movies. The premise of “Killervision” is that the B movies Jared watches take on new life when the monitor flickers and onscreen characters are replaced by people Jared knows. Jared watches in horror as a masked killer slaughters friends, family, and acquaintances associated with the accident, only for Jared to discover the following day that the same person died in real life via the manner foreshadowed on his television.
This is the first inkling that “Killervision” might have something fun in store for the viewer. Films such as “Popcorn” (review here) and “Matinee,” among others, have made memorable moments from featuring made-up movies within the movie, sometimes creating better scenes than those in the main film itself. Except these particular clips aren’t parodying or purposefully emulating cheap genre knockoffs. They are cheap genre knockoffs.
All of the movies Jared watches are shot with the same modern camera and with amateur actors, giving them no semblance of being from a previous decade at all. For a “Star Trek”-themed clip, the only set decoration is a metal-frame monitor stand like the one your schoolteacher wheeled out when showing an educational video to the class.
It’s unsurprising that the retro clips are unconvincing, as “Killervision” is cheaply produced all around. Jared wears a head scar that looks like it came from a cellophane bag off a peg at the Halloween store, and the family dinner table is jammed against a wall with a curiously-placed curtain hiding whatever that room actually is off-camera. But the B-movie interludes are the primary creative hook for the story, and they don’t do anything to increase interest in the film, much less read as authentic period pieces.
“Killervision” has two pathways it can take towards turning into an engaging film. The first is as a suspenseful mystery, except “Killervision” has no chance of working as one. The summary alone is familiar enough to have even the most inattentive viewer certain of who the killer is and what is really going on as soon as the plot is underway. For the story to come off as clever, it relies on a reveal that is transparent immediately. I’d go into detail explaining why it never comes close to pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes, but in the unlikely event someone can still be caught off guard by the supposed twist, I’ll refrain from risking a possible spoiler.
I was willing to give the movie the benefit of the doubt that it knew its reveal wasn’t fooling anyone, and might try to impress in other ways instead. Then an “all the clues you’ve been given thus far” montage confirms that “Killervision” does in fact fancy itself as a mystery, when it is never puzzling in the slightest.
Its intrigue spoiled, “Killervision” can still function as a psychological thriller. Regrettably for the filmmakers, they simply do not possess the expertise to make it compelling in this regard, either. Characters are dour, plotting is languid, and attempts to inject meaningful drama stumble into walls as much as Jared. Asides involving Jared’s estranged father, for instance, don’t fold back into the core story in ways that add substantial overall value.
“Killervision” is a flawed concept for a thriller, although it is not necessarily a bad one. Even though a sanity-questioning protagonist solving serial murders is not a fresh idea, roping in B-movie interludes could have made for a promising angle. Director Dale Trott and his fresh from film school cast and crew put in sincere effort, but their ambition outweighs their resources and skill set. I’d see a future effort from Trott and his companions, but they need to develop a better understanding of scene structure and cinematic staging if they ever want to pull off genuinely inventive psychological horror with gripping drama and shocks unannounced via telegraph.
Review Score: 35