If there were an academy award for most accurate film title, the makers of Some Guy Who Kills People would need to start rehearsing their acceptance speech post haste. It's the story about the kind of anonymous schlub most folks pass by every day and never give a second thought too. We see these people trapped in dead end jobs without giving a thought to how they wound up there. If we pass them in the street, we'll barely take notice as they go about their ways with their heads down, eyes locked forward and clothing chosen with the specific purpose of allowing one to camouflage themselves from the teeming masses. While we live in a world where it seems everybody is climbing over one another for their fifteen minutes of fame, no matter what degrading steps are taken to achieve it, even the people that keep their heads down and try to go about their business without being noticed have a story to tell.
Kevin Corrigan plays Ken Boyd, a thirty something introvert just out of a stay at a psychiatry hospital. He's returned home to live with his acerbic mother (Karen Black at her venomous best) and to work a dead end job at a retro themed ice cream scoop shop where he's often called upon to don a ice cream cone body suit and stand outside handing out coupons. His troubles stem from a traumatizing bullying incident that's flashed back to throughout the film. The experience left him withdrawn and unable to connect easily with others; his only outlet being his sketchbook where he pens violent revenge fantasies.
Corrigan is the perfect choice for the role. He's one of the premier “that guy” actors working today. You can't quite place him at first, but as soon as you look up his IMDB you'll do an “oh year, I remember him in that”. Some Guy provides the perfect opportunity for Corrigan to take leading man status. His portrayal of Ken has a sad sack charm to it. There's a good guy inside him, but it's buried deep down under layers of crushing self doubt and insecurity. As Ken's life begins to improve-his young daughter tracks him down and becomes a constant, warm presence in his life and he strikes up a burgeoning relationship with a woman new to town-he still can't rise above the darkness that surrounds him. Even when things are at their best, Corrigan has a look of simmering rage just underneath his surface.
Corrigan gets support from a stellar supporting cast. Karen Black is phenomenal as Corrigan's acerbic mother who always has a smoke ready for her fingertips and putdown for Ken at the tip of her tongue. Lucy Davis (Shaun of the Dead, The Office) brings just enough nervousness and baggage to her role that you'll buy into her looking past Ken's dotted, troubled past. Newcomer Ariel Gade gives a fantastic performance as Corrigan's spunky daughter. It was a role that could have come off more cloying than charming, but Gade does great work as a young girl just trying to get to know her father. She's sweet, smart and Ken sees enough of himself in her to want to soldier on.
Perez and Levin flip the formula on slasher films. Instead of focusing attention on a generic group of victims lined up for slaughter by an oft-offscreen madman, the writing/directing pair show them briefly in flashback scenes and their kill scene. The victims are an afterthought. In the brief moments we do see them they inspire neither empathy or sympathy in the viewer (one victim's wife confides in Bostwick's character that she's glad her husband is dead). However, unlike a film like Leslie Vernon: Behind the Mask, Perez and Levin aren't interested in a deconstruction of the horror genre. They simply create a fantastic character study on a nice but damaged man.
The true standout of the cast is Barry Bostwick (Spin City) as the town sheriff. This could have easily been a role that was played for dumb laughs: “Look at this hick cop!” Every time it looks like the film is heading in that direction, Bostwick pulls back from the edge, revealing a character much more in control and on the ball than the genre usually allows. He also has some of the funniest moments and lines in the film and he looks like he's having a blast with the material. The film has a throwback feel to it, especially when it comes to the humor. A brief scene of Bostwick singing along to an 80's pop song while hauling ass to a crime scene, sirens blazing looks like it looks like something you'd see in a mid eighties zany comedy.
Despite the grim, sometimes depressing nature of Some Guy, it's one of the funniest films I've seen this year. From visual gags (it's tough not to laugh at the sight of as grown man in a basketball costume) to Black's scathing putdowns to the over the top nature of some of the kills, this is a fantastic comedy. Those looking for the traditional stalk-and-slash formula may come away disappointed. The killings are by and large an afterthought, and despite a couple good visual gags, a lot of the bloodletting occurs off screen. It's also a shrewd and timely social commentary on the affects of bullying, not just in the moment, but on the harmful effects years down the road.
The one quibble I have with the film is a resolution that puts a nice bow on things. It looked like the film was heading down a dark path but pulled back from the edge for a more Hollywood friendly ending. I'd be interested to know if studio interference led them to go the way they did, or if Levin and Perez just caught up in rooting for their character too much.
I was able to catch a festival screening of the film at BUFF a few weeks back. This review has sat half written since then. It wasn't an easy film to review. I love the movie, but there are so many layers and motivations to it that it defies giving a pat summary to. It should see the light of day this fall (either through a theatrical release or VOD/DVD) but I wonder how the typical horror fan will react seeing as how genre films that aim to dig deeper and go off in unexpected directions (like Cabin in the Woods) are increasingly met with tepid numbers by fans that want something more straight forward. There's always going to be a crowd that appreciates a smart thriller that treats its audience like adults, it just seems like that number is dwindling. Years ago films like John Landis' American Werewolf in London could combine wit and horror and draw in crowds. Let's hope Mr. Landis lending his name as a producer helps bring an audience to a terrific indie that deserves to be championed.