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  MURDER LOVES KILLERS TOO

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 Package
     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!

The Story
     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.

The Direction
    
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.
 

Vital Statistics

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
 

     

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