Killing Floor (The)
R1 - America - Think!Film
Review written by and copyright: James Teitelbaum (9th January 2008).
The Film

"Psychogenic Fugue", that is what David Lynch called his 1996 feature, "Lost Highway". In that film, a man and his wife receive video tapes showing murders taking place in their home. Then things get truly strange, in that David Lynch sort of way. A decade later, director Gideon Raff made "The Killing Floor", in which a similar premise leads in a completely different direction.
Marc Blucas plays a literary agent named David, who receives video tapes showing murders taking place in his home. Then things get truly strange...well, not truly, but kind of. While out jogging, he bumps into a beautiful girl, spilling her coffee all over her face and coat. Instead of getting mad, she goes home with him, and she just happens to be wearing a lovely satin dress under her coat. Her name is Audrey (Reiko Aylesworth), and she becomes a suspect, along with David's mousy secretary Rebecca (Shiri Appleby), his erstwhile best buddy Garret (Derek Cecil), and the son of the previous owner of David's loft (Jeffrey Carlson). Phony phone calls, things going bump in the night, and technology gone awry cause David to slowly lose his sanity. He enlists the aid of a flaky cop (John Bedford Lloyd), who may also be the person messing with David's mind. Ultimately everyone in this movie is lined up as the potential antagonist.
"The Killing Floor" is an indie thriller that mercifully avoids the currently in-vogue torture porn genre (the movie's biggest gore scene is largely presented off-camera), and instead goes for a sort of Roman Polanski vibe. Things are creepy and odd in David's life, but not to a degree that the audience can't buy into it or relate to it. The horror and the strangeness are just intense enough to creep the audience out, but not so over the top to risk losing suspension of disbelief.
The meatiest role was handed to Appleby, who pulls off "shy and mousy girl turned stalker" pretty well. Conversely, John Bedford Lloyd needs to quit acting. Now. Blucas is charged with carrying this movie, and is in every scene. Unfortunately, I had trouble buying into him as a powerful executive. He's a bit too boyish looking, and plays up the abrasive jerk persona a bit too much. It is over the top. This is the biggest failure of the film. It is really hard to care about this guy. In any movie that puts the hero in danger, certain empathy for that hero has to be present. If we don't like the guy, we don't care if he gets out of danger, and then the whole thing falls apart. There have been plenty of cinematic anti-heroes, characters who are basically bad guys, but whom we want to see succeed. Michael Corleone in "The Godfather" (1972-1990) films is a great example. In "The Killing Floor", we have no reason to like David, no reason to believe that he is a good person under his mean exterior, and no reason to root for him. The obligatory twist at the end - just as his enemy is revealed - is a bit contrived and doesn't make a lot of sense. But ultimately David's enemy wins and he is perhaps justly punished for his poor attitude towards others.

Video

Aspect ratio is 1.85:1, anamorphic. The DVD print is clean, and given the lack of extras on the disc (see below), compression was not much of an issue. The work of director of photography Martina Radwan is fairly workmanlike, occasionally shaky, but also shows occasional flashes of inspiration. The muted color palette of grays tinted with ochre's and greens is fairly consistent for the duration of the picture. Running time is 1:33:23.

Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1, with English and Spanish subtitles. The musical score by Michael Wandmacher is fairly dynamic, with the requisite stings providing shock value, just as the quieter portions of the film wind up the tension. The surrounds are used for both music and frequent atmospheric effects, drawing the viewer into David's creepy and crumbling world. Dialogue is clear and remains basically centered.

Extras

Think Film has provided the film's original theatrical trailer which runs for 2 minutes 15 seconds as the only extra on this disc.

Overall

The Film: C Video: B Audio: B+ Extras: F+ Overall: C-

 


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