Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kill Theory (2009)

Note: This review is part of my coverage of Horrorfest IV.

Kill Theory

Kill Theory is brilliant. It sounds like just another boring slasher picture, but it manages to be better than that. And while it uses concepts that we've seen elsewhere, in my personal opinion, I think it weaves them together in a way that is unique, and effective. This is a slasher where the victims are also the killers! Stepping aside from the brilliant premise only for a moment, the execution of the film is well-done, which just cements it as a good picture. It's easy to make a crappy slasher, especially nowadays that the format is so overdone, but I'll say this film was a whole lot more effective than the Friday The 13th remake, just to throw that out there.

So here's the premise. A man is out mountain-climbing with three of his best friends. In an instant, he's faced with a decision - cut the rope killing his three friends to save himself, or all of them die. He cuts the rope. Years later, after a conviction (plea bargain) and lots of therapy, he's released into the public. But his therapist is a bit of an ass, and insists on making this guy feel bad for saving himself at the cost of his friends' lives - even though he was convinced they all would have died (himself included) if he had not sacrificed them to save himself. One of the great things about this film, is that this - which is the central theme - is not clear-cut. Was what he did right? Is he justified? What would you do in that situation?

So anyway, this guy is now obsessed with proving that anyone else would make the same decision were they in his shoes, so - and this is where it becomes clear that he's not exactly sane - he hunts down a group of soon-to-be-graduating college students vacationing in a house out in the woods, and gives them an ultimatum. Kill your friends to save yourself. At dawn, if only one person is alive, that person walks free. If more than one person is alive, they all will be killed. And thus it begins.

What would you do in that situation? Would you kill your friends to save yourself? Do you have it in you to become a murderer? Of course, you would try to spoil this psycho's plans, and find another way out of the situation, rather than succumb to his rules straight out - and the characters do spend a lot of time considering that - but eventually, it becomes clear that this psycho is not going to let you escape, and that you will either have to kill your friends, or be killed by the time the sun is up. Again I ask, what would you do?

I don't think I could kill my friends in that situation. I think, personally, it would be better for us all to die. That would be taking the moral high ground. But is it really better to die a martyr than survive as a murderer? It's a legitimate question that deserves discussion. And either way, do you have it in you to become a murderer? Perhaps you don't. But maybe one of your friends does. How well do you trust your friends? Do you think they are as morally strict as you are? Or are they of the more self-serving variety? Would it not be better to strike against them before they inevitably decide to strike against you? Or do they deserve to be the one to survive because they have that will to survive, even faced with the condition of having to kill others? What would you do? More importantly, what will your friends do?

Fascinating premise. Truly fascinating. Perhaps one of the most brilliant (not necessarily best, but most brilliant) and original slashers I've ever seen. (Original not in the sense of being unlike anything to come before it, like Halloween and its ilk, but original in the sense of taking a tired formula, whipping up various elements we've seen before, and giving it a very unique and intriguing spin).

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