68 Kill (2017) [REVIEW] [SXSW ’17]

Four years after its release, Cheap Thrills still kicks all kinds of ass. There isn’t one element of that film that stands out from the rest, with the performances, direction, editing, and writing all firing on cylinders. Personally, I’ve kept an eye on every member of the cast and crew’s projects since this one, excited to see what they’ll come up with next. Since Trent Haaga wrote Cheap Thrills, surely a follow-up project might be nearly as good, right? Well, short answer, no, 68 Kill is not anywhere near as good as Cheap Thrills. Sadly, 68 Kill isn’t even as good as most other movies I’ve seen, proving that sometimes you capture lightning in a bottle, or in the case of 68 Kill, you’re lucky to catch farts in a bottle.

Take a seat, Mr. Gubler, I don’t think you’ll like this.

We all have that one friend who dates someone who is way too attractive for them, with the caveat that they’re a bad person? Well, in the world of 68 Kill, nice guy Chip (Matthew Gray Gubler) dates hot prostitute Liza (AnnaLynne McCord) despite her being a pretty awful person. Liza convinces Chip to rob one of her clients for $68,000, but when the robbery gets out of hand, Liza shows her true, even more villainous colors. Chip might be able to escape Liza temporarily, but his getaway is far from clean, as he encounters a wide variety of despicable characters, proving there’s no such thing as a “perfect crime.”

Hot women love degenerate men!

After watching certain films, you can easily deduce what the elevator pitch was, which is normally, “Imagine this movie meets this other movie?” and then it makes a billion dollars. 68 Kill was clearly sold as “See, it’s a black ROMANTIC comedy! Get it?” and it was off to the races. In that respect, it’s true to many romantic comedies, in that the lead “hero” is interacting with women who are way out of his league and generally are one-dimensional caricatures instead of being treated as humans. Chip, for some reason, regularly encounters a variety of stereotypical women that he either sleeps with or sees naked, because…I don’t know, plot, I guess? It would be a little extreme to say that this film downright hates women, based on how the characters are written, but to say the film is “problematic” in its treatment of female characters would be a little too gentle. To be fair, 68 Kill is actually based on a novel of the same name by Bryan Smith, so it’s possible Haaga made a faithful adaptation of that story and, if that’s the case, I truly hope to never read a book that misogynist.

I’ll just be over here trying to remember if there were women in this film who we don’t see in their underwear.

This isn’t to say that the film is a complete trainwreck, as the entire tone of the film is that of “fun, midnight movie,” it’s just that, upon any analysis other than its surface value, it doesn’t hold up. Gubler is relatively endearing in his performance, as are much of the cast. McCord and other awful women, played by Sheila Vand and Alisha Boe, all give it their best, but the script completely fails them. I could potentially be interested in Haaga’s future directing projects, but I’m not quite sure I could stomach another one of his written efforts. I shouldn’t be surprised that, after writing Deadgirl, about two teenage boys who find a zombie-like girl chained up in a hospital and take turns raping her, could write another film with such disparaging interpretations of women, but I guess I had hoped for more. But, then again, what the hell do I know? If I wanted to be as progressive as I want my movies to be, maybe I should stop referring to myself as “Wolfman” and call myself “Wolfperson.”

Wolfman Moon Scale

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