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Kill for Me (2013)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 2/12/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/12/2013
It's no newsflash to say that there aren't many original movie ideas out there anymore. (Although, I have recently watched two films -- Robot & Frank and The Sessions -- which had stories which I'd never seen.) It would be fair to say that there are a finite number of plot combinations and sooner or later, they all come around again. Hitchcock's 1951 film Strangers on a Train brought to light the notion of two people swapping murders and this storyline crops up from time-to-time. It has returned in the new thriller Kill for Me, which adds the new notion of having the main characters be women.
College student Amanda Rowe (Katie Cassidy) has been having a tough time as of late. Her roommate and friend Natalie Ross (Leah Gibson) has disappeared and Amanda has broken up with her abusive boyfriend, Mark (Adam DiMarco). Amanda's other roommate announces that they have to find someone to take over Natalie's room, or they won't be able to make rent. So, Hailey Jones (Tracy Spiridakos) moves in and she and Amanda hit it off. When Amanda notices scars on Hailey's back, Hailey reports that her father, Garret (Donal Logue), is an abusive alcoholic. After Hailey helps Amanda fight off an attack by Mark, Hailey suggests Amanda help her in getting revenge on her father for all of the years of abuse. Amanda is unsure of this, but threats of blackmail force her into a situation from which there is no escape.
Kill for Me gets off to an intriguing start, as it is implied that Amanda didn't do anything to help Natalie on the night that she disappeared. "OK", I thought, "I want to see what she's hiding." But, this never comes back up again. Did I read the beginning incorrectly? No, I think that's just one of the problems with this movie.
Co-Writer/Director Michael Greenspan and his fellow Writers Christopher Dodd and Christian Forte have worked hard to make Kill for Me fall into many categories, but they may have bitten off more than they can chew...in a very low-key way. First off, Greenspan wants to make this a "slow burn" film with a bit of a film-noir fee. However, "slow burn" and slow-paced are two different things and what we get are scenes in which there are long pauses between actions and dialogue. David Lynch has been able to use this technique to give his films a dream-like feel, but here, it just comes across as turtle-like pacing. For reasons which aren't really explained, Amanda and Hailey form a quasi-lesbian relationship. Is this because they're both tired of the ways in which men have treated them? I don't know, but it comes out of nowhere and is never really explored and feels like an exploitation move.
And then we have the plot twists. Take it from me, a solid plot-twist is hard to create and it's clear that the writers of Kill for Me put a lot of thought into how things would play out in the final act. In fact, they may have put too much thought into it. The story becomes needlessly twist in the in the finale, as we get double-crosses, more double-crosses, flashbacks, and revelations. Again, I hate to criticize anyone who appears to have put work into their project, but it simply feels like way too much and I get the feeling that the powers that be were hoping that the sudden flourish of shocks would make us forget about some plot points from earlier in the film.
Katie Cassidy, who is the daughter of David Cassidy, has put in a lot of time in the horror genre, having appeared onSupernatural and in Black Christmas, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and the mini-series Harper's Island. She's also done some more mainstream work, so it's interesting to see her appear in a low-budget movie like this. She's OK here, but, at the director's behest, her performance is very subdued, adding to the lethargic feel of film. Similarly, Donal Logue is a familiar face and while I can't knock him for trying something more dramatic, I prefer him in comedic roles.
In the end, Kill for Me plays like an odd combination of the aforementioned Strangers on a Train meets Wild Things. The movie wants to have an old-fashioned vibe while still portraying (nudity free) girl-on-girl action and some violent scenes. The end result doesn't add up to much and by the time the ending arrives, confusing reveals and all, most viewers will be saying "Turn this off for me."
Kill for Me is yet another movie where students never seem to go to school on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing only trace amounts of grain (probably intentional) and no defects from the source materials. Again, this is a dark movie and some shots, specifically in the finale are too dark. The image is never soft and the level of detail is satisfactory for a DVD. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo and surround sound effects are fine, most notably in the finale, where we have sound coming from different sources. These noises come from the front and rear channels, and some are nicely detailed. The stereo separation is good and the subwoofer joins in during the action scenes.
"The Making of Kill for Me" (13 minutes) is the lone extra on this DVD. This contains comments from Katie Cassidy, Tracy Spiridakos and Director Michael Greenspan, as well as some asides from Donal Logue. They talk about the plot and the themes of the film, as well as some comments about the production. The last half of the piece is comprised almost entirely of on-set footage.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.