What would horror be without the delightful deviants who murder, maim, and in general, ruin everyone’s good time? Certainly nowhere near as vibrant or terrifying as the genre is. Don’t get me wrong, I love ghosts and ghouls as much as the next guy, but it’s the sadistic so-and-sos who invade your home, stalk you through the night and kill you just for the hell of it that really scare me.
Today’s entries highlight two types of terrorizers. The first is a somewhat misguided movie featuring a monstrous maniac, while the second boasts a clever twist on your typical insane home-invaders; both offer mounds of mad, merciless mayhem.
BLOOD: Best described as a cross between H.G. Lewis and Hostel
BUDGET: In the neighborhood of $10, 000
The importance of having a strong focus in an indie film can’t be overstated. With minimal budget and resources, keeping it simple is always the best practice. Putting too much into a single film overcrowds it and spreads every element too thin, overwhelming and boring viewers at the same time. Randy Fabert’s simply titled police procedural/revenge/torture-gore/slasher hybrid suffers from this over-complexity flaw.
After a large and extremely imposing serial killer, dubbed the Juggernaut, brutally snuffs out a police officer, Det. Graham (director/co-writer Fabert, looking like a Vegas magician with his finely sculpted facial hair and swept-back spikes) and his bookish partner (Sheila Mudd Baker) are assigned to the case. Playing out like CSI fan-fiction, the first part of the film focuses less on actual forensic science and investigation, and more on Fabert staring at crime scenes. In an attempt to pep things up, scenes of the Juggernaut brutally torturing and killing people are peppered throughout. The scenes are super-gross (in a good way), but none of the victims are really identified or given any semblance of personality, so the kills wash over you like abstract images of bloody pulp. Since the killer has no real motive for these random murders, the threat feels thin; the film is also riddled with plot holes, like how the giant, blood-drenched monster evades police so easily in the middle of the day.
Things pick up at the halfway mark, when the murdered cop’s alcoholic father, bent on revenge, delves into a seedy criminal underworld, like a crazed version of George C. Scott in Hardcore. Unfortunately, the abrupt switch in focus is a little too disorienting to be effective.
A lot happens in Psycho Killer’s 95 minutes, but that density comes at the cost of making an enjoyable movie. Although there are some pretty accomplished gore effects within, this film is a great argument for the old adage that “less is more.”
BLOOD: Not a whole lot, save for a eye gouging scene
BUDGET: Undisclosed, but apparently very low
A video-taped family birthday is interrupted by three ski-masked assailants who proceed to terrorize said family, in this found-footage twist on the home-invasion movie.
With a shocking murder within the first five minutes, it’s safe to say this film doesn’t mess around; it quickly gets down to business, making you a witness to the terrible things the trio do (which run the typical Funny Games gamut) while they record the ordeal on the family’s camcorder.
The film’s colour correction is off and the sound distorts when people yell or scream (which is often), but these imperfections add to the chaotic feel of the film, as the brutal band have a hell of a time raping and torturing the family.
Unintentionally cutting the tension, however, is the cartoonish portrayal of the family’s neo-Nazi tormentors, who all sport a swastika on their person (one of them even has a Hitler moustache tattooed on his finger, to lighten things up at white power meetings, I guess), spout Aryranist psycho-babble at their Jewish victims, and exhibit far too much over-the-top, hate-filled glee. That being said, they are easy villains to hate, making it all the more satisfying when the tables are turned on them in the second act.
Like all movies of this ilk (House on the Edge of the Park, 2006′s Them, etc.), there’s no fun to be had by watching Hate Crime. It’s not made to entertain, but rather to torment, and despite its ham-fisted anti-hate message, it had me writhing in my seat the whole time.
You can catch Randy Fabert’s Psycho Killer on the Synapse Film Channel at DigiDev.TV, and check out its Facebook page for updates. Hate Crime is still making the festival circuit, but you can see it now online at Psykik Junky Pictures for the evocative price of $6.66. You can also scoop up a Hate Crime T-Shirt via Fast Custom Shirts, or visit the film’s active Facebook page.
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