Â 68 Kill is an interesting vehicle ““ not funny enough to be a comedy, not thrilling enough to be a thriller, not biting enough to be a satire, but overall an enjoyable enough exercise. Trent Haaga (co-writer of Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV) directed and wrote the screenplay for this flick, and a quick review of his filmography shows a penchant for B-list horror/gore films and sequels galore. 68 Kill sits above this general summation, but it does take a little while to find its feet.
The film opens to Chip (Matthew Gray Gubler, (500) Days of Summer) and his girlfriend Liza (AnnaLynne McCord, 90210) dissecting their mundane lives. Chip, a lovable loser who earns crumbs of money by literally shovelling human waste, is punching above his weight with Liza, and they both seem to know it. Liza repeatedly scorns and belittles Chip ““ in once scene she slaps the hell out of him as they become intimate. She’s a little unhinged, you see, and Chip, despite her scorn and temper, thinks he’s in love with her. Alas, Liza is the breadwinner in a not-quite ideal way: earning dough by sleeping with their landlord, Ken. She laughs off Chip’s apparent sadness at the situation, telling him in no uncertain terms that it’s far more unpleasant for her. Things take quite the turn when Ken shows off stacks of cash, $68,000 to be exact, and stows it away in his safe. Liza gets an idea–
From here, the film finds a bit more rhythm with its objectives and its overall synergy. It starts off at a boil, but not in a good way. To clarify, the first 10-15 minutes of 68 Kill are intended to shock and awe the viewer with how “crazy” Liza is, how messed up their relationship and lives are, and how dark and seedy their world is. The objective is fair enough, and there’s plenty of touchpoints to validate that angle (seedy landlord, abusive relationship), but the execution is rather lacking in finesse and it comes off as cheap and desperate instead of intriguing and without that “wow” factor it may have on paper.
The film takes a few unexpected ““ and rewarding ““ turns away from the usual tropes and plot devices, and this is where it is at its most entertaining and engaging. I won’t spoil the meat of the sandwich, but things veer off in some pretty dark directions. It is through Chip’s sweet naivety, contrasted against a backdrop of horrific outcomes, that the film scores some proper laughs, even managing to carve out a few dollops of bona fide tension here and there.
As touched upon, 68 Kill lets itself down in its heavy-handedness, really trying to shock the viewer with how psychopathic Liza and certain other characters are. Execution is crucial for such things, and 68 Kill doesn’t always get it right, resulting in some jarring and tiresome moments that scream, “Just look how dark this is!” Unfortunately, it’s these amateur-feeling choices that lose 68 Kill points and a lot of momentum. Better writing, better acting and better editing are the only resolutions here, seeing as they aimed for an American Psycho type of black-comedy and ended up with occasional Vampire’s Kiss levels of cringe and over-the-topness. Less is more in this case, peeps.
And yet, overall, the film is enjoyable enough to recommend, defying its well-worn plot points (heist, unhinged people, toxic relationships) with a little bit of good humour and “out of the box” thinking. This humour and deviation keeps it fresh, where the stench of staleness surrounds many others with similar plotlines. Furthermore, at just 93 minutes, it achieves its objectives and gets the job done sufficiently without feeling bloated or verbose.
SCREEN REALM SCORE: â˜… â˜… â˜…â˜†â˜†
’68 Kill’ will be available on DVD in Australia from May 23, 2018.