The Movie Waffler The Overlook Film Festival 2024 Review - KILL YOUR LOVER | The Movie Waffler

The Overlook Film Festival 2024 Review - KILL YOUR LOVER

Kill Your Lover review
When a young woman attempts to end their relationship, her boyfriend turns into a monster.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Alix Austin, Keir Siewert

Starring: Paige Gilmour, Shane Quigley-Murphy, May Kelly

Kill Your Lover poster

In the wake of the MeToo movement we've seen some heavy handed depictions of toxic masculinity in movies, especially those of a genre bent. But none are as on-the-nose as the allegory deployed in Alix Austin and Keir Siewert's Kill Your Lover. Here toxicity is just that, a chemical that takes over a possessive man, turning him into a literal monster and subsequently infecting his female partner.

Taking its cues from films like Two for the Road and Blue Valentine, Kill Your Lover opens at the end of a relationship and details its downfall through flashbacks. Dakota (Paige Gilmour) wants out of her relationship with Axel (Shane Quigley-Murphy), and is in the process of rehearsing a breakup speech with her best friend Rose (May Kelly) when Axel arrives home unexpectedly early and overhears Dakota's plans.

Kill Your Lover review

When Rose leaves Dakota to hammer the final nail in her relationship's coffin, Dakota finds Axel suffering from what seems like a particularly nasty bug. Seeing him in such a sickly state, she decides to hold off on delivering the hammer blow, but when Axel deteriorates to the point where an oily black substance appears across his body, she begins to wish she had left.

Through flashbacks we see how this doomed relationship initially blossomed despite Dakota and Axel seeming an unlikely fit. Dakota lives like a teenager, always leaving a mess behind her and proudly displaying her former lovers in a photo collage on her wall. Axel on the other hand is a conservative square obsessed with appearances. Dakota enjoys BDSM, which Axel reluctantly plays along with despite his discomfort. We see how Dakota gradually loses her identity as Axel asserts his control over her.

Kill Your Lover review

Along with some clever make-up, Gilmour and Quigley-Murphy do a fine job of portraying the toll Dakota and Axel's relationship has taken on each other. In the flashbacks there's a gleam in their eyes and they appear youthful and vital, whereas in the present they seem to have aged a decade.

For its first 20 minutes or so Kill Your Lover works moderately well as a relationship drama, but things fall apart when the body horror elements kick in. The film does nothing interesting with this idea and it resembles a short that's been padded out to the minimum qualifying run time of a feature. The second half of the film is a prolonged physical brawl between Dakota and Axel, who by this point have morphed into superheroes, or supervillains, depending on your stance, and it's basically a contained and intimate riff on the sort of overblown fights that end comic book movies.

Kill Your Lover review

The movie clearly wants us to take Dakota's side, but it's difficult to see her as the innocent party when she comes off as so obnoxious and immature. We're supposed to think Axel is being unreasonable in demanding Dakota remove her pictures of former conquests, which seems like the sort of thing that would be a deal breaker to anyone entering a new relationship, regardless of their gender. Dakota also seems unclear as to what exactly her issue is with Axel. One minute she's complaining about his domineering ways, the next she's moaning that she doesn't know what he wants from her? Well, which is it?

But perhaps the elephant in the room is that it's impossible to believe two people from such disparate worlds as Axel and Dakota would be drawn to one another in the first place for anything more substantial than a one-night stand. They're the sort of people you'd go out of your way to avoid, and spending 77 minutes in their company is so gruelling you struggle to understand how they could have endured each other's presence for longer than a night. 

Kill Your Lover plays at The Overlook Film Festival from April 5th and will be distributed by MPI Media Group / Dark Sky Films.

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