Two roommates with abusive men in their pasts consider murder as an option to help settle each others problems.
Certain motion pictures evoke a creeping sensation, beginning with the faint whisper of a mischievous spirit in my ear that escalates to a cacophony of wailing banshees far too boisterous to be ignored. No, I’m not speaking of that rational inner voice pleading, “Turn it off while you still qualify for Mensa,” though I’ve chosen to ignore that poor soul on many occasions in my cinematic travels. To this day, it has yet to forgive me for each and every second of “Catwoman.” The particular feeling I refer to is the phenomenon of deja vu, a French phrase meaning “already seen.” We’ve all experienced this sense of a recycled moment, and films can ignite it just as easily as a familiar scent on the breeze.
Far too many films these days, it seems. The deja vu that settled into my bones immediately upon watching “Kill For Me” was the most pronounced yet, and not long passed before I figured out exactly why I was being haunted. The very first review I’d written for this site was an unfavorable tirade against “Breaking the Girls,” an inept potboiler that I’d described as “Strangers on a Train With Hot Chicks.” It’s a shame that my induction to HorrorNews was a mere four months ago, else I’d be tempted to borrow my opening paragraph and countless Hitchcock references from that critique. Instead, I find myself addressing an inconsequential topic at the onset, like the movie review version of a “Simpsons” episode. Honestly, I could have just copied and pasted. This is how nearly identical the two movies are.
To be fair, “Kill For Me” has superior pacing and performances, but the aforementioned tag line, tame lesbian undertones and ridiculously contrived plot twists to round out the final act are all there. College cutie Amanda (Katie Cassidy, from the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” remake) suffers from a dark dilemma, in the form of a volatile ex-boyfriend (Torrance Coombs) who may have had some hand in a peer’s disappearance. New flatmate and make-out partner Hailey (Tracy Spiridakos) has a bothersome cross of her own to bear. She believes her mother’s supposed suicide was a murder perpetrated by her abusive father. Canadian actor Donal Logue, who has never quite revisited the sparks displayed in earlier roles such as “The Tao of Steve” and his raucous sitcom “The Good Life,” portrays drunken dad Garret with a disarming meld of pathos and implied menace. If there existed an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in a Crummy Movie Nobody Will Ever Bother to Watch, he’d be on my short list.
In an act of rage after saving Amanda from an attack by her former beau in the basement of their home, Hailey plants an axe in the back of his skull. This sequence, brutally realistic in both choreography and execution, was one of the few instances where I found myself thoroughly engaged. Surmising that self-defense would be a hard sell to the police, our heroines decide to bury his body and never speak of the incident again. By the way, for those of you who happen to find yourselves in similar circumstances, this is the worst possible plan you could ever concoct. Hailey, proudly waving her crazy flag shortly thereafter, informs Amanda that she must in turn kill Garret as recompense. After all, fair is fair, right?
Needless to say, the girl-on-girl smooching sessions come to an abrupt halt from there on out. What does transpire is a series of red herrings and ludicrous turns of events leading to a finale that ties the loose ends together in a jaw-dropping final twist that one can only describe as unforgivably distasteful. To put into politically incorrect layman’s terms, it’s a severely retarded ending. “Kill For Me” does contain some well-crafted moments nestled amongst the tedium along the way, most of which involve Amanda’s seduction and attempt on Garret’s life in his secluded home. These scenes build the tension surprisingly well, giving us unexpected and telling insights into Hailey’s mental instability.
The performances rise so far above the material, I found myself deeply sympathetic to the cast at various points in the film. Cassidy, a poor man’s Jessica Biel, brings a palpable combination of innocence and sensuality to the role of Amanda, never overplaying her wide-eyed reactions to the outrageous scenarios occurring before her. Spiridakos also impressed me in a role that could have been taken straight over the top, given that she is afforded absolutely no transition from caring friend to raving nut job to work with, merely a metaphorical on/off switch. The supporting players all deliver commendable turns as well. As for Mr. Logue? The guy was Quinn in “Blade,” of course he’s awesome.
Director Michael Greenspan, who co-wrote the unfortunate script with Christopher Dodd, showed promise in his freshman debut “Wrecked” in 2010. Though essentially a meandering one-man show for Adrien Brody, it was a good full-length feature to cut one’s teeth on. “Kill For Me” is a decided overreach by comparison, and his work here would have fared better had he kept things simple and relied on his actors as opposed to his questionable screenwriting skills. Still, he has the polish to take his craft places beyond the realm of low-rent thrillers, though I wouldn’t be holding my breath for that call from the Weinstein brothers just yet if I were him.
I could have summed up this entire enterprise with the words “SEE REVIEW FOR BREAKING THE GIRLS” filling this page in an ornate and obnoxiously large font, but I don’t believe you’d be reading this link (or anything else penned by yours truly on this site) had I gone that route. As I’d previously stated, “Kill For Me,” to its meager credit, is a better film than “Breaking the Girls.” However, this didn’t stop me from checking that previous post in order to bestow the exact same grade here. I’ll concede that this is a tad misleading, but I was admittedly too kind then, being a newbie who feared coming off as snarky and jaded. Hell, four months later, that’s my hook.
Kill For Me (2013)