Ronald Perkins builds an army of 14 people brainwashed through cult-like methods to protect him from his parents’ killers. When Perkins is imprisoned, the police unwittingly unleash his followers on a small town and they’ve only got one thing on their mind: “Kill for Mr. Perkins.”
“Do you miss anything?”
Right off the bat, I want to warn you all that the synopsis I have seen in other places is extremely off from the actual story here. Either it was written before the actual product came out or there is information they intended to get across in the film that they failed miserably at conveying. Nothing major, but I wanted to vent a little.
Having a child abducted is certainly a parents worst nightmare. We all know that it is somehow worse not knowing the fate of your child, to have that carrot of hope constantly hung in front of you, than the certainty of even a brutal death. The inability to find closure tears people apart. So we immediately feel some empathy toward Dwayne Hopper, a sheriff whose son was abducted ten years ago along with 13 other kids from the area. It’s obvious that his semblance of a life is merely a shadow of an existence under the blazing light of his grief and fear. We also aren’t surprised at all that when he believes he has found the man responsible for the kidnappings, Ronald Perkins he goes into full out attack mode. Yep, we’re in rouge cop territory here, complete with home invasion and vigilante justice. But Dwayne is certainly surprised to find out that Perkins has brainwashed all of the abductees into mindless killing machines to enact his revenge against a town that too easily moved on after the brutal murder of his parents. Cue 28 Days Later-style “zombie” violence and bloodshed on a much lower budget with a much more limited cast list (I’m pretty certain I did not even see the titular 14 killers).
On paper, this film has a ton of potential as an exploration of the selfishness and destructiveness of an unwillingness to move on past the horrors that occur in your life. Perkins is an obvious d*ck a bit reminiscent of Jigsaw (god, are those movies crap) in his ability to rationalize his temper tantrum-like attacks on innocents because he is unhappy with his own lot in life, but his behavior is paralleled by that of Hopper. We feel horrible for him until we see what his obsession has done to his life, his job and his family. He’s an alcoholic whose inattention has chased his wife into another man’s bed and whose lack of basic fathering has given his daughter the kind of daddy issues that leave her yearning to jump on the c**k of the first older man to come her way (in the form of douchy musician Eric Ross). This could have been a marvelous attack on the basic premise of almost every vigilante film, if it had actually succeeded.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t and what we are left with is not a particularly bad film, but one that is ultimately so forgettable that I had to re watch it a day later to remember enough details to write this review. In the end, it comes across as yet another story about an obsessed guy who nobody believes is right about his paranoia until the monsters attack dressed up with a few “psycho” killers whose behavior is attributed to PCP and behavioral modification. Yawn.
A cliched story, I can deal with, but it is the details here that bring it all down. First off, I’m getting sick of that whole over-saturated blues and yellows neo-noir thing that is supposed to make everything look so dark and foreboding. I realize that everybody in independent cinema, especially indie horror, is ecstatic about the ability to film in dark with DV, but a little variety in your color palette would be nice. Then there is the ham handed discussion of Nihilism half-way through the film that is there to be sure all of us stupid people at home understand the basic philosophy the film is working under. Worse, they don’t even get the philosophy right. Please take the time to actually read a little Nietzsche before expounding upon his ideas. Finally, the ending is one of a type that I used to adore but seems to be used more as a cheap cop-out for people that can’t figure out a way to bring and real closure to the story and this is certainly a story that needs an honest type of closure instead of a cheap non-ending.
One last thing: I’m pretty certain that someone would notice a pharmacist walking out of the office with a heaping bag full of bottles of PCP on a regular basis. Come to think of it, PCP hasn’t been used in the medical community since 1963 and I’m pretty sure it never came in bottles labeled PCP in big, bold letters.
Of course, if you just want to see some people get f*cked up, they do a decent job of that, once the film gets rolling. There is a great head explosion, some decent hackings and disembowelments as well as a really neat looking kill that was shot as silhouettes back-lit from the other side of a sheet. Unfortunately, the film is too slow paced and pretentious to be a half-decent popcorn flick.
On the good side, Craig Singer does come across as an adequate director, Patrick O’Kane played that one-note, brooding angry and depressed thing to the hilt and Shayla Beasly is kinda cute. Take that for what you will.
Perkins 14 (2009)