The Film (2/5)
It’s another slasher “homage” wherein a group of sequestered people (here, they’re all trapped in a Catholic orphanage after a school pageant) are stalked and murdered, and only one among them (the micro-mini & fishnets-in-the-convent musical director) can fight back – but what is her link to this malevolent monster?
So yeah, you’ve seen it all before – though this time it feels like everyone involved in the production is really into Pantera. Or maybe I think the killer’s mask kinda’ looks like Phil Anselmo? I dunno’ – it’s all very dirt metal.
The film does change gears a bit as it lumbers toward its pretty elaborate finale, stopping along the way to play in the torture porn sandbox (and I know that expression gets tossed around all willy-nilly – but when the film takes a detour into hanging its undie-clad heroine from a pipe by her wrists with barbed wire while the killer runs a blade over her oiled cleavage… yes, there is kinda’ torture, and also kinda’ porn).
The kills are creative, and there’s a bit of flair to the filmmaking, but the origins of our serial slasher are painful pastiche (and the film takes them too seriously to have a laugh at how canned things get), and his connection to the final girl is so obvious that you’ll have it figured out right about the time Rick Rosenthal did on the set of Halloween II - which is to say you’ve seen this particular twist coming since 1981.
Still, the same can be said for a whole bunch of latter-day slasher flicks, so I can’t tell you that you won’t have fun with this, especially if you’re an indie-horror booster.
It’s not that the film looks bad, per se – though there are some weird instances where the aerial photography seems stretched to conform to the 2.35:1 aspect ratio (which is an amateurish move made all the more glaring considering that the film is often nicely shot) – at issue is the fact that there are myriad glitches during the film’s runtime.
We shoot in high def, we master in high def, and we replicate to high-def media – for there to be dropped/garbled frames – or frames from previous scenes that pop/flash during later sequences in the final product – is inexcusable in the 21st century. Both of those things happen here. I can’t be sure if these faults were accidents left in the final cut (though to my wannabe filmmaker eye, they don’t look to be), or mistakes during mastering (more likely) – but I do know that this kind of thing can’t be overlooked if a distributor wants to be taken seriously.
The Orphan Killer’s audio is a mixed bag, as it’s obvious that people are only mic’d some of the time, so there are instances where we’ve got a solid sound mix with clear, clean dialogue… followed by wild sound in the echoing corridors of a school building. It gets rough enough that it’s hard to pick out dialogue on a few occasions. It’s another oddly incongruent element in an otherwise fairly polished film.
There is a tonne of behind-the-scenes footage for your viewing pleasure, and a lot of it concentrates on the gore effects and action beats – but it’s not narrated or really organized in any way, which is kind of a bummer.
Also included is a batch of web promos for the film, which feature would-be horror hero Marcus pontificating on the nature of evil and all that kind of thing. I guess maybe I prefer the silent, malevolent monster…?
We’re also given one of those free packed-in coasters that distributors are so fond of. How cute – a DVD! It’s not an added value bonus, no matter how much you believe it to be!
It’s kind of shockingly derivative, and it veers wildly from polished and slick to disappointingly amateur hour – but there are flashes of style on a shoestring in Farnsworth’s take on the notion of the fan-favorite killer franchise. Slasher fans will find some nicely done grue, the requisite horror movie nudity, and all of the clichés locked in place. It’s too numlaut metal for me to go all in on, but I’m interested in what Farnsworth comes up with next.
Though apparently, that’s Orphan Killer 2.