The latest in an apparently neverending line of old school slashers,
MURDER LOVES KILLERS TOO is a clever take on any number of splatter
movie clichés. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that it’s all been
done before by the likes of Rob Zombie (whose movies this film largely
betters) and Ti West
(to whose work MLKT frankly can’t hold a finger).
The title of this 2009 film, at least, is
original--it’s actually part of a tagline that reads “EVERONE KNOWS
KILLERS LOVE MURDER. BUT DID YOU KNOW…MURDER LOVES KILLERS TOO.” It
was the feature debut of writer-director Drew Barnhardt, and was
released straight to DVD in June 2009 following a positive (overly so in
my view) reception on the festival circuit.
Regarding the DVD, beware the back cover description,
which gives away far too much!
A gang of fun-loving morons travel to a cabin they’ve
rented in Big Bear. A narrator informs us that a previous group of
goofballs came before them and were all killed. Clearly our
bubble-brained protagonists are in for a similar fate, as they’ve barely
settled into the place when one of them is gored.
There’s a squatter in the cabin, a freak named “Big
Stevie” who evidently doesn’t like having guests. His demented handiwork
claims two more of the group, this time a guy and gal Stevie dispatches
with a kitchen knife following a pool table screw.
This leaves a young woman named Aggie to face Big
Stevie on her own, in an epic nighttime stalk through and around the
perimeter of the cabin. Stevie eventually catches Aggie and, rather than
killing her outright, has a heart-to-heart with her, leading to some
most unexpected developments.
Taken on its own limited terms this film works
quite well. It’s impressively controlled, genuinely stylish, and
achieves its effects through old fashioned craftsmanship, with
writer-director Drew Barnhardt favoring lengthy tracking shots that are
impressively executed. Nor does Barnhardt skimp on the gratuitous nudity
and extreme gore integral to this type of film, and, with a brisk
running time of just 80 minutes, never overstays his welcome.
What this film has very little of is genuine suspense.
None of the characters are the slightest bit interesting, and so their
murders were never especially impacting. That extends to the ludicrously
protracted mid-film stalking sequence, which grows dull extremely
quickly--although Barnhardt inserts many clever bits (a coat-hanger gag
is a hoot) that keep one’s attention from straying too far.
As for the succession of witty last act twists that
have so impressed genre critics, they serve to free the proceedings from
the cabin setting via an unexpected viewpoint shift, and are easily the
most interesting portion of the film. They’re not enough, however. Wit
and cleverness are good attributes for any film, but even a slasher
movie needs a bit more to succeed.
MURDER LOVES KILLERS TOO
Radar Dog Productions
Director/Screenwriter/Editor: Drew Barnhardt
Producer: Chris McKinley
Cinematography: Kevin M. Graves
Cast: Christine Haeberman, Allen Andrews, Scott Christian, Kelly Devoto,
Ryan Franks, John Jenkinson, Nigel Lambert, Mary LeGault