As a police officer investigates a local murder where the victim was strangled and viciously mauled, he must also deal with his ex-girlfriend barging back into his life. She seeks comfort from him when her new boyfriend both cheats on her and abuses her. All their concerns and social drama suddenly take a back seat when backpacks start coming to life, attacking those wearing them tearing them limb from limb. Not only must they survive serial killers, abusive boyfriends, but they must escape from becoming fleshy meals for animated zombie-like backpacks.
Toxic Lullaby director, Ralf Kemper, mixes elements of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and Dawn of the Dead to create his first feature (direct to video) film, Attack of the Killer Backpacks. The film nervously mixes, humor, social commentary and gruesome effects with uneven results. While some of the human drama works, the core concept of the titular Killer Backpacks is mishandled, amateurish and lost in the mix. Perhaps lost in translation from its native German to English subtitles, the comedy is also shallow and humorless. This is a painfully dull and silly film that serves only to test the audience’s patience.
Director Ralf Kemper displays some promise hidden the frames, but for the most part Attack of the Killer Backpacks feels like a student film, and a poorly executed and confused one at that. Experience is not on his side just yet. His later film, Toxic Lullaby, delivers on the hint of talent found within this first feature. His handling of the two lead females show his strengths as their conflict, both emotionally and physically, is one of the film’s few highlights. The rest of the film is either derivative or just plain goofy.
The worst element of Attack of the Killer Backpacks is how lame the killer backpacks are. They are not frightening and they are not that amusing either. Eliciting only the weakest of chuckles, the back packs bounce around growling and jumping on victim’s heads. It’s a far too literal and preposterous execution of the idea. The effects are also bare with them as well as they never look more menacing than a backpack simply thrown at a character or a door or a window. Silly stuff.
The film does have moments of goofy carnage that is somewhat rewarding and amusing. The gruesome results of the backpacks attacks leave characters beaten and bloodied, usually missing various body parts. Those that survive find themselves removing remains of other victims off their person left there from the retreating or defeated cannibal travel-wear. None of the effects are particularly well executed nor memorable; but, within the context of the film, they are easily able to best the drama and comedy.
The best part of the film is how the characters Inis and Jannette end up interacting, the jilted lover versus the other woman. If nothing else, the script smartly decides to concentrate on their dynamic relationship. Plus, between the two, they contain the film’s twist. A twist that manages to be interesting, providing some color to an otherwise drab set of characters, even if it is otherwise inconsequential to the concept of killer backpacks. The acting is across the board from promising to amateurish. Eva Balkenhol as Inis gets the best of the script and later appears in the director’s more professional effort, Toxic Lullaby.
Attack of the Killer Backpacks is one of those films that challenge the audience’s ability to stay with the film to its conclusion. It is boring, dull and unfunny. Worse, the killer backpacks are neither amusing nor threatening, they’re just uninspired. The director injects the film with a few moments of promise, gruesome gore and inventive character conflict between its two leading ladies, but getting from one moment to another is dreadfully painful. It is far better to skip Attack of the Killer Backpacks and jump to the director’s far superior effort, Toxic Lullaby.
1 out of 5
The Attack of the Killer Backpacks (2006)