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Killer Me   B-

Point Blank Films / Vanguard Cinema

Year Released: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Zachary Hansen
Writer: Zachary Hansen
Cast: George Foster, Christina Kew, Kirk B.R. Woller.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

Like Roman Polanski's Repulsion, Lodge Kerrigan's Clean, Shaven, and a handful of other films before it, Zachary Hansen's Killer Me digs into the mind of a schizophrenic drifting into madness. Despite the distinct feeling of déjà vu creeping over it, the film blossoms into a fairly interesting love story between brooding criminology student-cum-potential serial killer Joseph (George Foster) and lonely, awkward Anna (Christina Kew). Living alone in a small, drab apartment with his pet goldfish, Joseph suffers from violent hallucinations -- or are they flashbacks? -- that usually involve him using a straight razor on hapless victims, but with Anna there shines a ray of light into his tortured existence.

While Anna is self-conscious and socially inept, she's surprisingly forward with Joseph, pursuing a relationship with him much to his surprise and hesitation. Their early scenes together -- meeting in a darkened corner of a library, having dinner at a restaurant -- have an off-kilter nervous tension that gradually settles down as they get comfortable with each other. Of course, Joseph is never comfortable with himself or what he might eventually be driven to do to her, so he pushes her away. Only he can't get rid of her that easily. Christina Kew's doe-eyed persistence and vulnerability compliments George Foster's quiet intensity nicely, and their awkward but genuine chemistry keeps things pretty engaging.

Aside from the stylish hallucinations/flashbacks, director Zachary Hansen and cinematographer Neal Fredericks opt for a gritty, minimalist visual style and rely mostly on tight shots and close-ups. This makes the film effectively claustrophobic, but what really draws us into Joseph's world is Arlan Boll's exceptional sound design and the distinctive, haunting score. Recorded by Hansen on a 15-year-old toy camera, the Fisher Price PXL-2000, the impossible-to-describe score creates a deep, droning, and curiously unsettling sonic atmosphere. Although Killer Me doesn't really explore any uncharted territory, it's a solid, unnerving debut for writer-director-editor Hansen, marking the arrival of a gifted new filmmaker.

Review published 09.11.2003.

Follow Michael Scrutchin on Twitter or Letterboxd.

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