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Review: Horrorfest 10 – KILL THEORY

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After Jason, Michael Meyer, and Freddy Kruger, should we add ‘Deranged Climber’ to the pantheon of great horror characters? No, but KILL THEORY is a solid new stalk and slash film from director Chris Moore that, while never coming close to breaking any new ground, manages to generate more than its share of suspense and is a decent way to kill 84 minutes. It may be “by-the-numbers”, but it’s obviously made by people who know what makes slasher films work, which it does and I appreciated it’s lack of gimmickry. The ‘kill theory’ of the title is all about the natural human instinct to survive, but that’s just an excuse to set up a row of attractive young actors to die horribly, which they do.

KILL THEORY opens up with a psychiatrist interviewing a soon-to-be-released mental patient (we only hear his voice) about a mountain-climbing accident which killed his friends and left him the sole survivor. The ‘deranged climber’ (as a news headline humorously declares him) had to cut his three friends away from a rappelling rope in order to save his own skin. To me this incident seems little more than an unavoidable accident really, but that’s all KILL THEORY offers as justification for the killing spree to come, so we have to take it. Cut to a group of eight attractive college kids gathering at a remote vacation home. Beer, BBQ, sex, and fun is what they have in mind and so that’s how they begin their party weekend. After some bland expository, they suddenly find themselves forced to play a deadly game of survival by ‘Deranged Climber’, who informs them that by 6am, if one of them is alive, that person goes free, but if more than one is still standing, he’ll kill them all. The killer, who communicates with the group through left-behind audio recordings and has set booby traps about the property, sits back and watches the fun begin as his victims turns on each other.

KILL THEORY is saddled with the usual horror conventions and the characters aren’t developed any deeper than those in your typical FRIDAY THE 13TH sequel. The acting’s not bad but, except for one chubby whiner, the victims are basically interchangeable and no one stands out. Kevin Gage, a charismatic actor who was the best thing about CHAOS, plays ‘Deranged Climber’, but he’s barely a presence and his unremarkable appearance is revealed only at the very end. The victims aren’t very interesting and the set-up goes on too long but once these friends start knocking each other off, the film becomes entertaining enough in its own unambitious way. Despite KILL THEORY’s short running time there are long stretches comprised of screaming confrontations about love triangles and fidelity which seem like a waste of time when there’s a psycho killer outside leaving giant bear traps on the lawn. Much of the dialog is indulgent psychobabble about how we’re all killers deep down, but the script is far from the film’s strong suit and it doesn’t get too bogged down before moving on the next kill set-piece, and that’s where KILL THEORY offers genuine bloody scares and solid suspense. There is a twist at the end that reveals weak motive, but KILL THEORY is simply an exercise in fright and is all about the deaths. Director Chris Moore, best known as Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s producer buddy on the ‘Project Green Light’ show has made a stylish first film and I’ll look forward to seeing what he can do in the future if he gets to tackle a good script.

2 Comments

  1. Mistress_Lola

    March 27, 2010 at 5:27 am

    I just finished watching "Kill Theory", and I must admit, I actually quite enjoyed it. I'm a little surprised as well, like Tom said, it's not really anything new or special, but there is definitely something enthralling about it nonetheless.

    I've seen A LOT of horror movies, and most certainly my share of slasher flicks, and it usually takes something pretty special to impress me (in fact I've been more annoyed with the modern offerings in the slasher realm than anything else, and I didn't even particularity like "Saw" past the 1st one either); but "Kill Theory" has somewhat of a raw realism that I enjoyed. I liked watching each character's unique personality change and unfold in response to their unlucky predicament… and trying to predict who would turn on who (not always an easy task I might add) made for even more gut wrenching fun!

    I also found the character's reactions to the given circumstances to be quite honest and realistic. I used the word "raw" before which I think is a good way to describe it. I'm sure that anyone who watches this film won't be able to help themselves from imagining what they would do if placed in the same situation, and even though they may not admit it, will easily empathize with at least one of the characters (including the "chubby whiner" as Tom so eloquently described him above).

    Now I'm not saying that this is a perfect film by any means. The script itself could have definitely used some work (though I honestly felt that the actors did a mighty fine job with what they were given to work with), the story behind the crazed killer could have been developed a bit more (I really would have liked to see more of Kevin Gage, though I wasn't completely dissatisfied with what we were given), and yes, the general aspects of the story have been done to death, so to speak. But all in all, I found this movie to be genuinely fun and exciting to watch! Not to mention often tense, with some great kill scenes!

    Considering the director and screenwriter were both first-timers in their given element, I'll be really interested to see what they come up with once they each have some experience under their belts!

    *3 & 1/2 out of 5*

    • terry allen

      April 6, 2011 at 6:20 pm

      having read several reviews of “Kill Theory” I find that all have at least one thing in common. they point out that there was nothing new or ground-breaking about this movie. In fact Mistress_Lola says that the “aspects of the story have been done to death”. I consider myself a horror movie buff (having seen a lot of them). In most all of them there was a deranged person or several deranged persons killing young teens. Unless I’m not remembering or didn’t see it I don’t recall a movie where the killer(s) had the victims kill each other (although “The Final”(2010) came close). It seems to me this was breaking new ground.

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