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Saturday, June 23, 2012

SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE -- DVD review by porfle

Expecting a HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN-type goresploitation farce or self-aware slasher spoof a la SCREAM and, instead, getting a darkly comic yet solid thriller is one of the reasons I was so pleasantly surprised by SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE (2011).  Another reason is that it's a seriously heartfelt relationship drama, but with the added ingredient of serial killing to give it that extra zing.

Kevin Corrigan is ideally cast as Ken Boyd, a downtrodden schlub fresh out of the "nervous hospital" after an attempted suicide and working in an ice cream parlor while living at home with his disgruntled mom, Ruth (Karen Black).  We keep seeing flashbacks of a young Ken being brutally tortured by a group of high school jocks, and when they start turning up dead one by one eleven years later, it's apparent that comic book artist Ken has graduated from drawing his revenge fantasies to acting them out.

Meanwhile, 11-year-old Amy (Ariel Gade), stifled by an overprotective mom and unbearably prudish stepfather, discovers that her real dad is none other than Ken and insists on moving in with him for awhile.  Awkwardly warming up to his new daughter while starting a tentative romantic relationship with Stephanie (Lucy Davis), Ken finds things looking up for him at last--until the town's sheriff, Walt Fuller (Barry Bostwick), slowly but surely follows the clues at all those murder scenes straight to him. 

At first it looks as though we're in for an irreverent horror comedy, especially after meeting Barry Bostwick's Walt Fuller at the first murder scene.  Bostwick is so laidback and relaxed in the role that there's a kind of low-key hilarity to everything he says and does, whether noticing that the eyes on a decapitated head seem to follow him around or politely asking a murder suspect he's interrogating to turn on the tape recorder for him ("It's the little red button.") 

Walt happens to be courting Ken's mother Ruth, which leads to some uncomfortable dinner scenes as he discusses details of each murder while Ken feigns disinterest.  Karen Black, of course, is her usual awesome self as Ruth, a fountain of grumpily amusing one-liners either directed at her apathetic son or pleading for help when left alone with her new granddaughter ("I don't know what to do!  She won't stop talking!") 

It soon becomes apparent that SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE isn't going for cheap laughs, and neither does it revel in excessive gore.  The violence is quick and old-school, done with practical effects such as when a head is lopped off with a machete using a dummy and lots of fake (but not digital) blood. 

But instead of revolving around the killings as a typical slasher flick would, the film's emphasis shifts to Ken's relationships with Amy and Stephanie, who have given him a renewed interest in life just as, tragically, he faces an inescapably bleak future.

Director Jack Perez, whose previous credit was MEGA SHARK VS. GIANT OCTOPUS, directs Ryan A. Levin's sharply-written screenplay with a sure hand while making the most of a small budget.  He has a wonderful cast to work with--veterans Bostwick and Black and the lesser-known Corrigan give it their all, while Ariel Gade is both cute as a button and disarmingly convincing as a lonely little girl whose delight with finally getting to know her real dad turns to horror when she discovers what really happens during his nightly "errands."  (Look for Ahmed "Jar Jar Binks" Best in a brief appearance as the town mayor.) 

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby 5.1 surround sound.  Closed-captioned but no subtitles.  Extras consist of an enjoyable commentary with Perez and Levin, a "making-of" featurette, a trailer, and a 15-minute short film, "The Fifth", which is perversely amusing.

Funny in a subtle way but never overly cute or satirical, SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE shifts its tone seamlessly to become both darkly ominous and, at times, genuinely heartrending.  A truly surprising plot twist late in the film ratchets things up to an entirely new level, leading to a nail-biting conclusion.  I found this to be an engaging and impressive little film that will be a welcome addition to my DVD collection.

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