Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Killers Anonymous ★★☆☆☆

Killers Anonymous, directed by Martin Owen, has an interesting premise – a group of killers meet regularly at Killers Anonymous to share their stories and work on, well, not killing. On the night of an attempted assassination of a U.S. senator, touted to be the next President, things suddenly aren’t as they seem and the group try to unravel who in the group is responsible for the attack.

It’s certainly possible to over-do a film, and sadly ‘Killers Anonymous’ has done just that. You’ll notice immediately how stylised it is… While I’m usually a fan of stylised films (‘Baby Driver’ springs to mind, which I loved), there’s a difference between those that I love and this one, and that difference is that the other ones are done well. Some of the shots in ‘Killers Anonymous’ are executed perfectly and are pleasing to the eye, however, the majority come across as clunky and overused. Take a conversation at the start of the film between characters The Man (Gary Oldman) and Jade (Jessica Alba), for example… a distant overarching view combines with wildly close-up face shots that seem to serve only to disorientate the viewer. I loved the colours and the mood of the style that Martin Owen went for, but the movement and sometimes puzzling set-up within certain frames was detracting and made it feel gimmicky, perhaps more like something you might see during an A level Media Studies project.

Talking of puzzling, the plot was what really got me. It sounds like it’s going to be a classic whodunnit but it’s not, and if I’m honest I’m not really sure what the point of the plot was, or what the writers were trying to prove. It feels like it’s attempting to be really clever, but it didn’t come together like it should have done, and by the end, I didn’t really feel like I cared. It’s a shame really because some parts I was really engrossed in – especially the first half, where some of the killers stepped back into the past to describe their first kill. This was the only part of the film where I felt like I connect with the characters – once it got into the actual plot the development didn’t impact me as much and it felt like I was watching a bunch of strangers involved in something I wasn’t overly bothered about.

Saying that I can’t fault the acting of the film, which I felt was very good and the connection between the characters felt believable. I particularly liked MyAnna Buring as Joanna, the leader of the support group, and Tim McInnerny made an excellent creepy doctor that just loves to watch his patients die. Leandro, played by Michael Socha, was my favourite character, especially after his backstory was revealed, and Elliot James Langridge and Tommy Flanagan were also good as Ben and Markus respectively. I wish there had been a lot more Gary Oldman though – what he did he did very well, but his character seemed to spend most of the time looking through a pair of binoculars, and I feel like Oldman should be utilised for more than that. It was the fact that he was starring in it that made me think it might be worth a watch, so I was disappointed, to say the least when he turned out to have such a small amount of screen time.

You can probably tell I wasn’t overly impressed with ‘Killers Anonymous’ – while the actors did what they could, it fell short on plot and editing. There may be something there for people that love hyper-stylised films, but if you’re hoping for a strong, memorable plot then this probably isn’t for you.

Hannah Read

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