20 November 2006 | rikkiebags
A great low budget horror
The last time I had saw a film with the director in attendance was during a Horror film festival where the organiser had decided to revive the early 80s rubbish sci-fi/horror-fest Inseminoid, probably solely on the basis that the director had offered to make an appearance. So Norman Warren made a visibly proud introduction to the film in front of several hundred horror fans, before suffering the ignominy of having nearly every one of the attendant audience laughing throughout his film. Regrettably, I am suitably embarrassed to report I was one of those viewers unable to stifle their laughter.
Which brings us to the Portsmouth HorrorFest 06 where, among others, KillerKiller made its public debut in front of director Pat Higgins. Fear struck me that a similar situation may arise, especially considering the extremely low budget involved, which can invariably mean there's a fine line between the good and the laughably bad. Happily, I'm able to report that KillerKiller is a case of the former.
Filmed in an extremely photogenic and atmospheric disused hospital, a group of incarcerated serial killers awake in their cells to themselves alone inside the same building that has apparently aged overnight. All of the prison doors are open and they are apparently free to leave. That is if it was not for the impenetrable mist outside... As they bicker between themselves and speculate about their situation (even mockingly wondering whether they are dead and in purgatory) they are steadily picked off one by one by the same woman, portraying one of their past victims in flashback as they relive in their past crimes.
Pat's previous film, TrashHouse was a hugely enjoyable romp marred by lack of quality sets and some ill-advised CGI. Both of these problems are rectified in this film, in that little of the latter is evident, and the hospital masquerading as the prison oozes character and coupled with effective lighting becomes an essential character in the film. The quality of acting can frequently be a problem in low budget affairs, and thankfully this area takes a real step up too where it is required. Although some of the supporting characters can lack charisma and presence, the two main leads, Cy Henty and Dutch Dore-Boize, pull off their roles extremely well and give extremely credible performances.
Pat's direction is extremely assured, professional and never jarring - the pregnant pauses or poor jump-cuts that frequently inhabit such films are never once evident. The soundscapes are effective as well, providing a good sense of unease throughout the film. Like TrashHouse, the dialogue is punchy with nice interplay between the murderers and bridges the inherent problems of being more character than action based.
There are a few problems though: The dialogue mix was at times muffled, making it difficult to fully decipher all conversations. The potentially explosive character of the serial killer kept locked in the basement does not quite come to fruition when he finally escapes, and I couldn't help but feel there needed an extra ratchet of tension and urgency as the climax approached.
However, make no mistake that this is a significant step up in all directions from TrashHouse. Whereas however enjoyable, that was a film that was really only for the zero-budget fans, KillerKiller frequently belies its status and achieves a level where it can be enjoyed by a much larger audience.
So, most definitely a success then (I'm more than happy to report), and again on the basis of what he has produced here, Pat can only go on from strength to strength.