US / 11 minutes / bw / 2 Lane Dir & Pr & Scr: Mark Wright Cine: Tony Beazley Cast: Eric Berner, Dan Garland, Sarah Murphree, Angela Kerecz, Mark Wright, Tony Beazley.
Somewhere in rural America, Pastor Henning (Berner) arrives at Taylor’s Grocery to put gas in his car. Lurking in the store, browsing but not buying, is an enigmatic young man in shades. At the counter, Peggy (Murphree) tells the Pastor the whole county is looking for a dangerous lunatic, the so-called Case 223, who’s escaped from a local Army medical hospital. Of course, as soon as the Pastor leaves the store, the young man takes off his shades and reveals himself to be Case 223—real name Andy (Garland). After slitting Peggy’s throat he hitches a lift from the Pastor. When they reach a nearby diner we discover that all is not what it seems . . .
This short homage to classic film noir is a low-budget project, but the direction, music (by Ron Gregg and Alterkation) and especially the cinematography belie that cheapness. There are, too, some pleasingly noirish lines—”I’ve learned many things in the military. Actually, it made me look at life differently,” says Andy during the ride in the Pastor’s car, a line that bears considerable irony, as we discover after the reveal at the end. A few moments later, still in the car, the Pastor revels in the scent of new-mown grass as they go by the local cemetery and comments: “I’ve never understood why bodies in metal vaults could make the grass grow so pretty.”
It’s during this car ride, which is probably the longest sequence in the movie (I didn’t time it), that some of the budget constraints show. The views through the windows have had to be bluescreened or greenscreened; (i.e., chroma keyed—at least, that’s what it looks like); this is done really quite well, so that we’d not be particularly aware of it were it not for the fact that the car apparently makes no sound whatsoever: the background to the conversation is silence, lacking engine-rumble or wind. It’s this artificiality that, I think, makes the chroma keying seem so patent.
As you’d expect from a low-budget short, the acting’s variable. Garland is fairly convincing in his role as the psycho, periodically racked by mental convulsions of some kind (these are visually very neatly handled), but Berner has more difficulty until, late on, he moves into action; while those in supporting roles tend to falter. One of those supporting roles—local sexpot Carrie (Kerecz)—seems to be quite irrelevant to the rest of the movie.
Overall, these flaws don’t do the movie too much damage; Kill Kill has a great feel to it.
The movie’s currently in post-production; courtesy director Mark Wright I was lucky enough to be able to watch an advance screener. I understand it’s going to be launched onto the festival circuit in early 2014. It’s well worth a watch if you notice it’s playing anywhere near you or if it becomes available online. (Check the Kill Kill website).