Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kill Theory (2009)

Human beings used as pieces on a madman's board game

A man is in a mental institution serving out a sentence from cutting his own three friends off a rope to save himself when climbing. After time served a doctor puts him on a temporary release program to see how he adapts back into society. Yep, he's ready...he immediately turns over what happened to him onto a group of others to see if they would make a similar decision. Meanwhile eight friends about to graduate college are celebrating in a remote cabin with drinks and a carefree time. After the party wagon winds down and everyone goes to bed, one of the women is forced on camera by an assailant to point a gun at her sleeping boyfriend and shoot or else she dies. The object of the game is to make a decision to take someone else's life to save your own. If 6 AM comes around and one person is alive, then they go free. If not, they all die. They soon find out that the maniac hiding outside holds their lives in the palm of his hand and attempts to pit them against each other. They show distrust, cave-in on themselves from mounting pressure and indecision, and also form alliances all the while finding out who was really their friend or loved one due to the diabolical set of circumstances they suddenly found themselves in. They probably weren't the most prime examples of a set of normal people who have it in them to commit violence as opposed to blood related siblings or a family with wife and children, but then again this is a lunatic who probably went to great lengths to prove his theory after all with a warped sense of reality.

"Kill Theory" is essentially a board game for the audience, except where there would normally be inanimate pieces, the playing field is comprised of living, breathing people. This doesn't hide the fact that it's formulaic but there is still something about moving people around like chess pieces that gets our morbid fascination of suffering fixated. This isn't exactly a cat and mouse game where the little guy gets a fighting chance, since the ways to get out are frequently blocked with obstacles. The quicker the characters realize that the quicker they can be the strongest to survive. This is the TV show "Survivor" in a literal sense. The movie frequently amps up the carnage without always showing thoroughly valid reasons for the characters to take out one another, and there is a share of down time with showing the villain in action. This moves like a thriller so some of the faults and inconsistencies move by quicker than if they slowed this down or if you had time to think about it later. They represent the yous and mes, the regular folk not accustomed to murder, so some extra triggers would need to be in place than a few obstacles and some prior, albeit minor, relationship issues in the way.

The performances aren't always award winning but they do partly help in that they cry and plead their hearts out with no one to help, audience included; yet after their selfish ways come out, I'd like to think you were meant to be detached to them with any shred of empathy. It's a game where people die when they lose, and that game was made by someone who has no care for the players involved. In that sense, the film translates that cold distance than finding relating points. It turns the tone into a kind of rubber necking that happens at an accident scene as you curiously drive by in your car, wondering the morbid circumstances. There are some viciously gory scenes at times when inner emotional turmoil bursts out all at once by taking their rage on the closest body part, as if they're disgusted with themselves or want to get it over with as quickly as possible.

"Kill Theory" is a cinema invention. You'd be kidding yourself or would be heavily disappointed if you went into this otherwise. I mean, cross relating this to real life is so slim to not be believable even if read in bold print in the newspaper. Though what holds it together is it's often treated somewhat simplistically. Some movies need a few more layers to spice them up. But this is a film that sticks to its guns by doing what it does well enough and not going out on a limb with a temptation of getting overly ambitious. It would have undermined it by including too many twists to make it even more far-fetched. The characters are basic archetypes, which makes it easier to discern but it still has some go a different course than expected. As a viewer, you know what you're going to get but, of course, with a few surprises to where you'll anticipate where it'll end up.

Rating: 6/10

Director: Chris Moore (producer of "Feast" series)
Link: IMDB

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