Studio: Starz Media
Director: Jim Klock
Writer: Jim Klock
Producer: Darrell Martinelli, Jim Klock, Peter Schafer
Stars: Jim Klock, Julienne Irons, Michael Mack, Richard Reid, Autumn Federici
A serial killer’s wife learns her husband’s secret while two police detectives struggle to uncover his identity.
Sadly, there have been enough serial killers discovered in real life and depicted on the silver screen that there is actually a definition for a “typical” one. And Richard of “Murder Eleven” is it.
As a boy, Richard was forced to watch his mother turn tricks for a fix. So preoccupied was she with multiple men at one time that Richard had to light the crack pipe for her while a pimp egged him on. His mind warped to the point where butchering prostitutes on a regular basis now makes sense in his morality. Then his wife stumbles upon Richard’s latest handiwork in the family garage and things suddenly go in a different direction
Richard may be a typical serial killer, but “Murder 11” is not a typical serial killer movie. Some of the more morbidly fascinating aspects of heinous crimes in reality are the stories seldom told. What went through the head of Dennis Rader’s wife when she discovered she was married to the BTK Killer? Was Josef Fritzl’s wife Rosemarie truly oblivious to the fact that her husband held their daughter captive in a cellar dungeon while fathering a second family in secret?
“Murder Eleven” is among the first serial killer stories to delve into the wife’s mindset. And what it portrays ranges from mildly baffling to completely unbelievable.
Initial appearances suggest that wife Samantha has a respectable head on her shoulders. Scrub pants indicate a medical care profession. Bringing home a smile with her bag of groceries implies warmth and affection. So when she sees a hooker with a gag in her mouth tied up in the space where she parks the Prius, it stands to reason that Sam might be more than a little miffed.
After brushing off the initial horror, Samantha instead settles into the role of comforting spouse, pouting her lower lip as she sympathizes with her husband’s “woe is me” tale of childhood abuse and irrepressible inner demons. She barely bats a lash when Richard vomits up his entire history of sordid transgressions involving bullet-riddled pimps and whores with slashed throats. “Why didn’t you tell me? We could have gone through this together,” she says.
Lasting only a few minutes shy of an hour and a half, “Murder Eleven” could be given the benefit of the doubt. Maybe there is not enough time to put Mrs. Richard through a full arc, so the script cuts a corner by speeding her over multiple emotional hurdles. That doubt is taken away when Richard instructs his wife to shoot him in the head if the cops try taking him prisoner. “Are you crazy? Why would you say something like that,” she asks. Murdering ten prostitutes and planning to shred one more in a wood chipper earns pity. Yet an exit strategy involving suicide is where she draws the insanity line.
Meanwhile, a pair of disgraced detectives, one veteran and one young gun, work the case. The inclusion of a procedural for a B plot makes no sense with the main storyline taking place in Richard’s garage. Detectives Mayfield and Jesse stakeout a seedy motel while plotting varied scenarios to trap their perp. How can there be any suspense in their pursuit when the audience already knows they are chasing the wrong scent? More than once the detectives say, “this could be our guy.” The viewer is left to respond, “no it isn’t. Your guy is at Richard’s house.”
Actor Jim Klock does not quite sell the serial killer. He finds a groove as things progress, but the opening monologue delivered while tormenting his prey feels like acting from the get go. The credits reveal that Klock also wrote, produced, and directed the film, which is simultaneously an explanation for this fourth hat as his own movie’s star.
In a similar vein, the garage where he plays Jigsaw is cleaner than a hospital exam room. In no way does it resemble the grime-filled, blood-scratched, and rusty-piped setting depicted on the cover artwork. The setup and the staging carries too much of a false feeling throughout each scene.
There is enough ambition and sincerity working to slap the low budget in the face, but “Murder Eleven” pulls out a rug for its third act and unravels the production entirely. Before anyone in the know about the big reveal claims that act three explains the previous two paragraphs, let me rebut, no it does not.
Even if the pivotal development excuses certain behaviors for intentionally counterfeit appearances, it does not retroactively undo the perception that the audience experienced in the hour plus leading up to the climax. It is insulting for the film to think that any viewer would take the twist as a scenario more plausible than the ludicrous one already given.
“Murder Eleven” almost pulls off a character study, except its roster is loaded with too many stereotypes and too much talking. The bulk of the runtime is preoccupied with damaged people comparing emotional scars in armchair psychiatrist sessions.
Richard and Samantha are not the only ones failing to live the American Dream. Detective Mayfield fell in love with a hooker informant. Detective Jesse has a drug habit and a pill-pushing girlfriend. A colossal amount of dialogue is devoted to philosophizing everyone’s personal demons. Just one person is intentionally murdered onscreen, making it literally the lowest body count possible for a movie centered on a serial killer.
“Murder Eleven” does not embarrass itself with its lower production value tackling a bigger idea, although it does not swing a Big League bat either. The story is decent, but the execution is not. As a result, “Murder Eleven” stumbles into a state of false cleverness mixed with rote personalities, preventing it from having any chance at evolving into a focused thriller.
NOTE: There is a mid-credits scene.
Review Score: 40