AFF Review: Jack Perez's Horror Comedy 'Some Guy Who Kills People'
by Jeremy Kirk
October 27, 2011
You can't have an effective tale of revenge without a nice helping of spilled blood, but who's to say all that bloodletting has to be followed by a grittiness or darkness that brings it into some sense of reality? That's precisely what the people behind Some Guy Who Kills People believe. They've crafted a film whose tongue has been pushed all the way through its cheek, is wagging at its audience, and daring them not to laugh. Here's a hint, though. You will be laughing a good deal. But Some Guy Who Kills isn't laugh/slash/laugh on repeat. The film has a good deal of heart. These three elements, along with an impressive cast that has every member delivering in abundance, combine to form a highly entertaining movie for anyone looking for something outside the norm.
Some Guy Who Kills centers on Ken Boyd, played by Kevin Corrigan, a middle-aged man who is stuck in life. Just out of a mental hospital, he works at a small-town ice cream parlor, lives with his candid and sarcastic mother, played by Karen Black, and dreams of ways to kill those who tortured him as a kid. While in high school, Ken was tied to a chair by fellow classmates, beaten and scarred both physically and mentally. Now, those same classmates are turning up dead, picked off in increasingly gruesome ways by a masked killer.
Of course, Ken's life is further complicated when his 11-year-old daughter, played by Ariel Gade, finds out he exists and he meets a pleasant woman, played by Lucy Davis. These two women show Ken the kindness he has been missing all his life, but, with the murders going on in the background, Ken may be far too gone already to win him back.
Written by Ryan Levin, directed by Jack Perez, and executive produced by John Landis, Some Guy Who Kills People is as on the nose and as funny as that title suggests. Though the title is blunt, Levin's dialogue is sharp, quick-paced, and Perez keeps the momentum of that dialogue and the action moving steadily forward. That action is presented with all the soupy goodness horror fans crave, but that too is done with such a winking tone that it adds in the burlesque feel of it all. When blades swing, body parts fly, and a bucket-full of blood splatters on the wall behind, but it's all in good fun.
But the sharp dialogue and over-the-top gore wouldn't be enough to create a film as enjoyable as this. The heart this film has, the emotional heart, not the bleeding internal organs that spill out, is the glue that holds it all together, the final piece of an amusing puzzle that makes it all the more worthwhile. Levin has created some truly memorable characters in Some Guy Who Kills, not one-dimensional, cardboard cut-outs of characters we don't have any feeling towards. And it's not just the film's protagonist we lock on to. Levin approaches every secondary character, even the high school bullies being chopped up, is given something, at some angle that keeps them from being pointless fodder for a ridiculous slasher movie.
Much of that depth to these characters stems from the actors involved, as well. Corrigan is outstanding as Ken, shuffling his way into this character who has locked himself away from an outside world, and the kindness he receives from his daughter and new girlfriend that slowly begin to unlock those doors. But Corrigan isn't the only shining mark in this cast. Black is superb as his cynical mother, bringing out vociferous laughter from the audience with every line delivery. Barry Bostwick as the local sheriff investigating the murders is equally as hysterical, the earnest way he too delivers Levin's lines causing an equal amount of laughter.
Both Gade and the always adorable Davis are incredibly sweet here, and, in most cases, that would be enough, but they also add to the overall comic nature of Some Guy Who Kills People. Gade is an outstanding child actress, one who doesn't feel like a child trying to act like a child. There's an organic feel to the way she delivers her lines and interacts with Corrigan, a naturalism that makes their relationship all the more heartfelt yet tragic when she finally learns what her father might be.
Though the murder element to Some Guy Who Kills People never fully lives up to the level of the relationships found elsewhere in the film, particularly in the third act when the film begins spinning its wheels to reach its conclusion, there is so much enjoyment to be had here. It rides that line between dark and sweet and isn't often attempted in horror films such as this. It's even rarer when that balance is successfully achieved. Levin and Perez make it seem effortless, as do the actors in bringing their characters to realistic life. Some Guy Who Kills People is a father/daughter drama piece of candy wrapped in a revenge tale wrapper, a film that delivers on its heart, both the compassionate kind and, of course, the bleeding kind.
Jeremy's Austin Film Fest Rating: 8 out of 10