Written by: Ryan A. Levin
Directed by: Jack Perez
Starring: Kevin Corrigan, Barry Bostwick and Karen Black
Reviewed by: Brett Gallman
ďThis one has no head...most bodies have heads!"
Some Guy Who Kills Peopleís title might be the worst or best thing about it, depending on how you take surprises. I think that title sets you up for some kind of irreverent, slashery romp when itís anything but that. In fact, Iím not even quite sure youíd even classify it as a slasher, even though it starts out as one and features motivations and plotlines that feel borrowed right out of an 80s splatter flick. Whatever it is, I can say that itís an unexpectedly affecting and quirky movie thatís probably not at all what you expect, but thatís a good thing.
Ken Boyd (Kevin Corrigan) is the title character, the recently-released mental patient who is now going around knocking people off at night. By day, he works at an ice cream parlor with his buddy, Irv (Leo Fitzpatrick), all the while avoiding his overbearing mother (Karen Black). Unbeknownst to him, his eleven year old daughter, Amy (Ariel Gade), lives nearby, and the two are randomly reunited one day. Since she hasnít known him for her entire life, Amy decides to move in with her father, who has to conceal his secret life not only from her, but from the sheriff (Barry Bostwick) thatís inconveniently dating his mom.
What I like about Some Guy Who Kills People is what it does with that setup, which has been done before in the sense that weíve seen a lot of double-life psychopaths operating right beneath peopleís noses. However, this script is smart enough to tackle it from the inside-out; it seems that so many of these movies want to dwell on the disturbing stuff, and this one even starts that way. We see Ken flashing back to some past, traumatic event, then heís dressed up as an ice cream cone and be ridiculed by an onlooker.; the next thing we know, this guy has an axe in his face. A few beats later, and weíre looking at the same thing, as a guy gets stalked and gloriously beheaded at a drive-in. All of this seemingly sets us down a well-trod path, full of gory spree killings, and thereís even a sense that maybe these scumbags deserve their fate, so weíre even kind of looking forward to seeing what kind of over-the-top method of dispatch comes next.
But then the movie suddenly settles down and doesnít screech to a halt at all. Once Amy enters the picture, Some Guy Who Kills People shifts into a surprisingly tender and sweet story about a father and daughter making up for lost time. It feels genuine and wisely skips any angst or resentment; the relationship is understandably a little awkward at first, but, before you know it, Some Guy Who Kills People feels like a relatively normal drama bolstered by two fantastic central performances. Corrigan is a guy Iíve always enjoyed since his days on Grounded For Life, and heís had some notable supporting roles over the years, but this shows he can completely carry a film as a lead. Despite his dark tendencies, Ken is a pretty affable guy who wants to do right; heís presented as a victim of abuse, and Corrigan brings out that wounded center in the character.
Heís matched well with Gade, the mature-beyond-her-years daughter that helps him emerge from his shell. She gives him advice on how to go on a date, he teaches her how to make a jump shot--typical father/daughter bonding stuff--it just so happens that dadís other hobbies seem to include mutilating people. Itís sort of like Paper Moon, only with hatchets. At any rate, you totally buy what this movie is selling when Ken shows up at Amyís basketball practice, only to find that sheís being subjected to the same sort of bullying he once endured. You can feel the hurt when he witnesses this, as if his paternal instincts kick in right there. This is the central relationship of the film, and itís what makes Some Guy Who Kills People much more emotionally investing than I ever thought it would be.
In fact, the relationship is so good and the characters are so likable that you even forget that there isnít a whole lot of killing going on. And then you realize that you donít really want them to start back up. Thatís probably the best compliment I can pay a movie called Some Guy Who Kills People: you actually donít want him to kill. You want him to be normal, to continue being a good dad to this kid. Most of all, you donít want her to discover what heís been up to. Thereís a lot of drama and irony at work with this film, and itís wickedly smart; in a way, Iím sure the title is sort of intentionally misleading and brazen because this story packs in a lot of cleverness and humor (Bostwick is especially a hoot as the sheriff). John Landis is the most famous name attached to this as an executive producer, and this film feels really smart and subversive like his early efforts--just as An American Werewolf in London was as tragic and funny as it was scary, Some Guy Who Kills People has to be one of the sweetest slashers ever.
You donít say that about horror movies very often, but this one earns the praise--itís a uniquely cute, gentle, and touching story thatís deftly put together by director Jack Perez. This movie takes so many unexpected turns, hiding trick after trick up its sleeve; its best one is reinvigorating the slasher genre by actually suppressing the slashing--itís been done so much that, to become interesting again, you need to almost do an entirely different genre. Once all is revealed, youíll realize that kernel revenge story here has been done dozens (if not hundreds) of times; itís just never quite been done like this. So, no, Some Guy Who Kills People is more than likely not what you expect at all--itís better. And it totally works. Buy it!
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