What I'm Watching: Killer Movie
Needed to clear some space on the DVR tonight, so I dug into the backlog of movies waiting on it, and decided to watch a little something I grabbed randomly called, Killer Movie.
On the surface, this sounds like something perfect for me. A television crew goes to a small town in the middle of nowhere to make a reality television show about the high school hockey team's first chance at winning a championship in 100 years...and instead get sucked into a murder mystery.
Surprisingly, this was not filmed in a found footage style. I wonder if that might have helped the narrative, but at the same time, welcome it being just a regular movie.
Things started off strongly enough, with the town having a huge Twin Peaks vibe with the town being very prone to 'accidents', and everyone just kind of accepting it, and being just a hair weird. But while it evoked that other more famous town, I don't think things were weird enough. And the point of there being a lot of 'accidents' in this town is never explained.
Another strength of the movie is that they do sometimes dip into reality tv tropes with into the camera interviews with the 'crew' of the movie. This adds an extra dimension to things, and allows them to make commentary on events and give insights that might otherwise be heavy handed exposition. They have some real fun with this, especially in the end credits where they actually use the device to address seeming plot holes! That was clever, and saved the movie a little.
The cast really shines. There's a lot of modern day recognisable faces, and if you've spent much time watching any current shows, you will likely recognise more than a few people, and none of them phone in their performances. They give better performances than this movie really deserves. Even Leighton Meester, who is only in this for a whopping fives minutes, doesn't cheap out and give a half-assed performance for her likely single day of shooting. Paul Wesley, Nestor Carbonell, Kaley Cuoco...all of them do good jobs, and it was a real treat just to watch them all have fun and do a good job.
It is a shame though that they were given such a bland script. Bland really is the word for it. There's really no surprises. The killer is pretty obvious from the moment you see him. I do like the visual of the killer in disguise, and it kept making me think of Nail Gun Massacre's killer, who may have been weird and lame, but had a striking visual. There were a number of good, fun kills at least, with some good blood, although nothing crazy or special, but they were decently creative.
But aside from some creative use of interviews and good deaths, the script is pretty much a standard slasher fare. No matter how good the performances are, you've seen the core of this movie before. And while you can usually see why certain characters and types and plots were used the way they were, this movie is...less of that. It seemed like the writer just wanted to write characters on a Hollywood tv crew because those are the sorts of people he knew, and he didn't quite know what to do with them in this setting.
The movie bends over backwards to get a Hollywood starlet into the cast by having her wanting to study directing by being a PA for this production, which was done with such backbreaking bending of plot, if it hadn't been sold by such a solid cast, I don't think it would have worked at all. Wesley's frustration at being dragged to this small town to direct this show, being tricked into accepting the starlet as his intern, and then getting sucked into secretly making the show be about the murders is well done, and goes a long way to making this plot believable and not contrived. They never quite pull it off, but they do the best they could.
So, the movie isn't perfect, it's not original in its plot, but the character types aren't often seen, and it's an interesting combination of dropping the typical Hollywood machine into small-town America without its cell service, internet access, or Starbucks. They could have done a lot more with the fishes out of water, and had more fun with the idea, but just didn't quite go far enough to make it stand out.
It's not bad, but it is ultimately a bland movie you've seen before, if told in a slightly different way, with a way better cast than it deserves. Certainly not a wasted 90 minutes if you see it on the cable box one night, especially if you're a fan of any of these actors, but not a must own.
I liked it, it made me smile, and there was no major OH COME ON!! plot moments, so I can't complain too much. It's a slightly different movie that just isn't different enough, sadly.