Killers (2014) [REVIEW] [SUNDANCE '14]

killers-2014-poster

The year was 2004. I was listening to a lot of hardcore punk back then, as I still do, but I guess I listened to even more back then. I was avoiding popular music of all kinds so when people started talking about “The Killers” I just figured they were some shitty pop band. Months went by and it was the summer of 2005 when I was planning a road trip to California with some friends of mine. I heard a really catchy song on the radio, and when I asked my friend who the band was, it was what I had feared the most: I heard a Killers song and LOVED IT. My friends had already liked them so on this three week roadtrip, anytime The Killers were put on, nobody complained. The film Killers has absolutely nothing to do with the band, but I had no idea what the movie was about going into it so now you’re  as clueless as I was.

A woman is being chased through the woods by a masked man and when he catches her, he brings her into room with cement walls covered by sheets of plastic. The man murders her with a mallet, but also films the whole ordeal and puts it on the internet. Someone we see watching the clip on the internet is a journalist (Oka Antara) who then goes to cover an event with a politician he tried, and failed, to expose. This journalist finds himself in a botched mugging which results in two deaths. Unsure of what he’s feeling about the deaths, his instincts tell him to film the dead bodies and upload the footage to the site where he first watched the woman being killed with a mallet. The killer from the opening enjoys the clip and reaches out to the journalist and tells the journalist to embrace this compulsion. Both killers are now embracing their bloodlust, each with different purposes, which leads them on a journey that teaches them the value of life, or in some cases, the lack thereof.

The editing, cinematography, and sound design of the opening sequence is fantastic. It sets the stage for some truly frightening sequences, and although there’s a lot of good stuff in Killers, the intensity of that opening scene is never quite matched. Despite having some interesting takes on life and death, those messages get lost in the overly elaborate storyline. The movie is around 137 minutes, so there felt like a lot of filler. We saw characters disappear when we thought they had a bigger part in the overall story, but when they came back, I had already been so detached from them that their appearance just slowed the pace down even further.

One part of the film in particular that I took issue with was that the journalist character seems to go from being a “regular” guy who tapped into something primal, but the first time we see him, he’s watching actual footage of someone being murdered. I know there’s a lot of fucked up stuff on the internet, but it’s not THAT hard to avoid snuff films, so right off the bat I knew this journalist was fucked in the head, making it all the less unsurprising that he got involved in the act of murder. Again, some of the sequences in the film were shot quite well, and the performances were fine, but it felt like the ambitions of the filmmakers ended up causing some of the messages to be lost in the overly elaborate plot.

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