Former mental patient Ken Boyd (Kevin Corrigan) doesn't have much going on in his life. He lives with his increasingly grumpy mother (Karen Black), works a minimum-wage job at an ice cream parlor with his dorky friend Irv (Leo Fitzpatrick), and suffers the occasional traumatic flashback to the high school incident that got him committed in the first place. Ken likes to draw, expressing some of his anger on the page, but sometimes, the only thing that will really clear up memories of a bully is a good old-fashioned hatchet murder. One by one, Ken's teenage tormenters start dropping like flies, and Sheriff Fuller (Barry Bostwick) is basically clueless, but the appearance of Ken's 10-year-old daughter Amy (Ariel Gade) turns revenge into a more complicated prospect.
Some Guy Who Kills People isn't a particularly flashy movie: although blood spills by the gallon and it looks great for a low-budget production, this is a character piece, and thus, the best thing about it is the casting of the roles and the performances by those actors. First and foremost, it's tricky finding a likable murderer, but the filmmakers were lucky (or wise) to secure Kevin Corrigan to play Ken. Even with that serial killer twitch in his eye, Corrigan seems so unassuming and pleasant at his core that the viewer wants him to strike up a nice conversation with Stephanie (Lucy Davis), wants him to reconnect with his estranged daughter, who believed up until now that her father was a disappearing deadbeat. It's so easy to understand why Ken's buddy Irv is firmly on Ken's side: extracurricular activities aside, Ken doesn't linger on the past so much as the past lingers on him, and if chopping of some heads is therapeutic, it almost seems worth it.
The introduction of children in movies, especially ones that are meant to be cute or charming, is also a tricky prospect, but Ariel Gade is a decent enough choice. There are times when the Amy character is too clever or witty, and times when the movie tries to rely on her smile to generate audience goodwill, but she has good chemistry with Corrigan, providing a talkative counterpoint to his mumbly introvert. The film drags a little in the middle while Amy struggles to get Ken to say more than one-syllable sentences to her, but the pair is good enough to carry the movie past these pacing issues.
Bostwick is very entertaining as the Sheriff, who also happens to be dating Ken's mother. As a small-town guy, he's concerned (if totally unfazed) by the grotesque crime scenes that begin popping up all over town, but a total lack of leads or precedent leaves him with a wall full of crime scene photos and few clues ("If you put our leads in a bucket and stuck your head in, you wouldn't drown," he tells Amy). Other movies might to turn a character like this into a bumbling idiot (possibly out of fear that a complicated protagonist like Ken needs someone drastically less appealing as an antagonist), but the Sheriff's cheery attitude is funny and endearing. I also approve of the casting of any "Wire" players in any movie for any reason, but Fitzpatrick and Corrigan are particularly good together, forming a heartfelt friendship in just two or three scenes.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and Some Guy Who Kills People writes itself into a corner with its kindly killer premise that it doesn't have a great answer for. Although the resolution isn't a full-on cop out -- everything it needs to turn the tables is set up and foreshadowed -- it still seems like a fudge or a cheat, creating a level of audience goodwill for Ken despite his actions and then never asking them to use it. Then again, the simple ending is in line with the film's simple charms, so it's not surprising that the movie doesn't leap to push the envelope at the last second. Like Ken, Some Guy Who Kills People is quiet, a little bit deranged, but mostly enjoyable, even if you wish it would come further out of its shell.
The Video and Audio
It's a shame to say that this 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation of Some Guy Who Kills People doesn't look very good, because this is a low-budget movie and the cinematography is nice for what it is (this doesn't look like it was shot in someone's basement and lit with table lamps). Sadly, issues are plentiful. The image is soft, with low fine-detail and lots of aliasing in complicated imagery (like shrubbery). Artifacting appears from time to time. The transfer also manages an incredible feat: blown-out whites and flat, weak contrast that turns shadowy areas to mush. At least colors are generally on-point.
A Dolby Digital 5.1 track is as middling as the video, although it has more to do with the nature of the film than the audio itself. The passing of cars, the occasional music sting, and a crowd or two don't really offer many opportunities for something crazy to happen, but even with the dialogue up to the right level, the track seemed maybe a little less active than I would've expected. Not that it detracts from the film; the dialogue comes through just fine, and that's all that really matters. No subtitles are included, but the disc supports television closed captioning functions.
The main extra is an audio commentary by director/co-producer Jack Perez and writer/producer Ryan Levin. No hemming and hawing here: the pair get right into minutia about whatever's happening on screen, which is a refreshing change of pace. The overall tone of the commentary is more technical, about the restrictions that Perez and Levin needed to work around on such a small budget and with such limited time, but it's a good listen for fans of the movie.
A couple of short video extras are also included. "The Fifth" (12:36) is a goofy little short with Sam Lloyd (from "Scrubs") as a serial killer named Ken. The packaging says "The Fifth" served as inspiration for the film, but it stands out from other similar shorts in that it's not just a scene from the movie -- this is a totally original, self-contained story that only has a couple of similar details. A decent, if clip-heavy Making of Featurette (13:06) rounds out the package.
Trailers for Mother's Day and The Divide play before the main menu. An original theatrical trailer for Some Guy Who Kills People is also included.
Although it doesn't quite stick the landing, there's enough to recommend Some Guy Who Kills People even if the horror genre wasn't already starved for inspiration.
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