Sponsor

First Look Review - Killing Mr Right

A student exacts revenge on the man she believes raped her.

Directed by: Kerry Beyer

Starring: Taylor Weaver, Brittney Karbowski, Elizabeth Jackson, Kerry Beyer




Watching Killing Mr. Right is a distasteful, disorientating experience. From an opening sequence, which implies sexual assault by way of a taser, to a clip of a sheriff noisily defecating into a toilet, leading to the more graphic scenes of male rape later in the movie, the film haphazardly attempts to craft its own brand of bad taste cinema, but can’t justify its use of such opprobrious components. Further disorientating is the film’s structure: we begin strictly in the realms of horror, and then the film mutates into a would-be psychological thriller, punctuated by irregular, jarring lurches into comedy. The effect is of watching three films all at the same time, and none of them any good.
Killing Mr. Right is never offensive or transgressive in the ways in which it aspires to be, as it is simply far too inept a film to genuinely discomfort. But it tries, oh it tries. We open with Ashley (a serviceable Taylor Weaver) being chased through a forest: she is inevitably captured, and then, at the mercy of a masked man, she endures the aforementioned taser assault. We then cut to a few months later: to a house in the sticks where Ashley ekes out an agoraphobic, disturbed existence with her housemate, Faith (a fun Brittney Karbowski). One evening, Faith brings home a new boyfriend, Mark (writer/director, Kerry Beyer), whom Ashley believes that she recognises as her rapist. Will Ashley enact a terrible revenge? Can she be sure of Mark’s guilt? I won’t spoil the above questions for you, but at this point, the film has another 80 minutes to go: you do the maths.
With its tables-have-turned plot dynamics and objectionable nature, Killing Mr. Right aspires for the sort of transgressive, exploitative pleasures of I Spit on Your Grave. And by using this model, Killing Mr. Right does achieve something ironically unique; it exploits the cinema of exploitation. I Spit on Your Grave’s original title was Day of the Woman, and, while it would be foolhardy to posit the film as a feminist tract, the rape sequences in that movie are at least presented with a harrowing flatness, and the film has a commitment to its material; to its theme of retribution and vindication. During Killing Mr. Right, rape is only ever used as a prelude to a punch line, or is itself the actual punch line. Throughout the film, Ashley states that she can’t even think about sex ‘without puking’, but at one point whips out the highly specialised sex equipment of a strap-on dildo to sodomise Mark with, and, later, is au fait enough with her town’s underground prostitution scene to hire an obese gigolo to rape him. I’m unsure if these scenes were played for laughs, or are just simply laughable. After all, this is a film where a character steps indoors during a storm and is bone dry, where a traumatised, smaller girl seemingly carries a grown man up a flight of stairs and ties him to a bed without raising a sweat. The film’s reductive view of women doesn’t help matters; in the opening, Faith’s ‘slutty’ nature is communicated by her spontaneously dropping to her knees to perform oral sex on Mark in a hallway (with Ashley surreptitiously watching, wide eyed, of course). The girls in the film all wear very little, and are filmed from leering low angles; but worst of all, the film’s sole concession to depth comes in the form of Mark berating Ashley for becoming a shut in following her rape and assault with an electrical taser; this is meant to be Ashley’s wake up call. I am all for transgressive subjects being explored in cinema, even if that treatment is comedic (I’m writing this with a framed original Odorama Card from John Water’s Polyester upon my wall), and something like the Soska Sisters’ triumph of indie horror, American Mary, handles the rape revenge narrative with assured drama, credible characters, and even touches of humour. But, comparatively, the frivolous nature of Killing Mr.Right, with its confusion of tones and lack of any real emotion, cannot carry such serious issues.
In the spirit of equilibrium, Killing Mr. Right is shot with a degree of sophistication; Kerry Beyer knows how to frame a scene, and his camera movements are carefully subtle: the sort of slick cinematography that would suit a high-end television production. Beyer is also at least driven; he seems to have produced every aspect of Killing Mr. Right, even down to the craft service; and there is certainly ambition in the film’s sui generis approach. I admire his work ethic, but if Beyer does have talent, it has been fatally misapplied here.
Killing Mr. Right? No, just plain wrong.
discussion by