An excruciatingly daft gang of stereotypes head off into the Australian wilderness for a weekend of work-related bonding. Unfortunately (or thankfully, depending on how you look at it), one of them happens to be a murderous psychopath intent on offing them “very creatively”.
A horror-comedy which is able to laugh at its own subject matter while simultaneously delivering a relevant message about popular culture (still maintaining its integrity as both a horror AND a comedy) is a fine thing, of which a number of examples spring to mind – Wes Craven’s Scream being an obvious one. The horror elements were supreme, the comedy rich and quirky, and its messages clear; the most prominent being “Fellow filmmakers, PULL YOUR FUCKING FINGERS OUT”. Its collection of perfectly executed clichés made it a modern celebration of absurdity even the most infrequent horror viewer could appreciate, its satirical observations kickstarting a renaissance of self-aware cinema that is still being explored today.
Regrettably, ‘satire’ with regards to horror seems to have suffered a curious re-defining. No longer is it exclusively used to alert us of ironic assessment or razor-sharp sarcasm, it has also become a label to attach to disjointed, confused creations which awkwardly straddle two genres without really fitting into either, and it seems the new trend is to accuse a critical audience of not ‘getting’ its intended significance. I like to think I understand how to view a film with tongue firmly jammed in cheek, but there’s only so much I can ignore before the same tongue is helping to vocalise the choice words emanating from my brainbox.
To review THE KILLAGE solely on these terms is unfair – it doesn’t have a political agenda, it’s a low-budget slasher – so it has to be judged on a horror and comedy basis. Sadly, it’s not chilling or particularly gruesome and our masked murderer is never prevalent or menacing enough to leave a lasting impression (alright, I admit, being ‘bonged’ or flossed to death aint pleasant). Joke-wise, the majority of the gags are arse-clenchingly bad, but I must confess it DID have me laughing from time to time at some ridiculous setups – an intentionally repetitive ‘figure running passed the door’ scene being my personal highlight – and it wasn’t afraid of offending people with a huge fake cock… at least I hope it was fake.
The standard of acting amongst our hackneyed ensemble is poor, with the majority of their exchanges shouted at each other for want of a more capable means of delivery, meaning some of the best lines of dialogue are spoiled and fall flat. The characters themselves aren’t very likeable or carved neatly enough from their parody template to make us care, forcing me to be dreadfully blasé about their lifespan – this is perfectly fine if the kills are remarkably original and OTT, but not great if they offer very little either alive or dead.
There aren’t enough nods, quotes or winks to call THE KILLAGE a homage to classic yarns gone by, which is a shame as it maybe would’ve meant cutting Joe Bauer’s flick more slack when trying to decide what exactly it’s trying to be. There’s also no stab at clever twists or veiled social commentary to add anything of worth to the genres it’s attempting to squeeze into. Unfortunately, the fact I was pleasantly surprised to find some of the jokes in a comedy funny should be warning enough.
Chris Barnes (@TheBlueTook)