DVD Review - You're Killing Me

The initial comparison has been to the TV series Dexter, which is about a serial killer who is the ultimate sadist, a man with a serious, murderous blood-lust. The difference is that Dexter only kills other serial killers. Dexter has a code. The protagonist here doesn't. He kills innocent people. If anything, the protagonist here is more like the Ice Truck Killer in the first season of Dexter, played by Christian Camargo. The main actor here though doesn't quite have the skill or charm of Camargo. He doesn't need to have any skill or charm because the script by Jim Hansen and Jeffery Self doesn't require him to have any skill or charm. All it requires is for him to stand or sit around and look pretty until some action is required and even then he's stiff and robotic in motion. He doesn't even possess the menace of someone like Jamie Dornan in the series The Fall.

In subject matter and slight tone, this movie, directed by Jim Hansen, feels more akin to something like Serial Mom (1994) and American Psycho (2000). Only, it's not as campy, as funny or even as homoerotic as those aforementioned films. It mainly involves openly gay characters, even two who do drag or cross-dress, but somehow this movie doesn't tap into gay culture as much as it might think. Given that Hansen's career in Hollywood has been mainly as a costume supervisor, this movies feels more like the creation by one who's more adept at crating external and superficial things than anything else.

Matthew McKelligon stars as Joe Palmer, a guy who is currently dating a guy named Andy, played by Matthew Wilkas (Gayby and Eastsiders). Yet, it's never established if Joe is homosexual. Obviously, he only goes for men romantically, but he never wants to have sex with them. The only thing he wants to do, which gives him an equivalent, orgasmic pleasure, is brutally murdering people. His preference is stabbing men multiple times and watching them bleed out.

The movie takes place over the course of a week as we watch him kill a person or two everyday. After Andy, Joe starts to date another guy named George, played by the movie's co-writer, Jeffery Self. The comedy in this movie comes from the fact that Joe is honest and very matter-of-fact about being a serial killer and actually murdering people, but because Joe's way of speaking is so deadpan, ironically, George thinks Joe is always joking. George doesn't realize Joe is for real every time he murders someone that George knows and immediately confesses to it.

It can be in poor taste to make comedy about innocent people being murdered viciously in which we see the actual depiction of those murders unless there's some balancing force or there is some gravity like empathy somewhere. It's why a film like Man Bites Dog (1992) doesn't work, but a film like Fargo (1996) does, even though that Coen Brothers film isn't about a serial killer.

What is meant by balancing force or some gravity like empathy is that killing just for killing's sake isn't funny. There's no humor in that. The audience watching needs something to care about or someone to care about. We also need to be able to feel like we understand them and that there's more beyond the surface. That's the empathy.

This movie attempts some empathy. It attempts a love story, an inherently empathetic dynamic. Like most romantic comedies though, the relationship is predicated on a lie or a misperception. In the end, once that lie or misperception is exposed, the relationship can either rise or fall. Unfortunately, we never care if the two characters here rise or fall because the truth here is that the whole thing is revealed to be incredibly vapid and shallow, if not totally hollow.

Perhaps, this is Jim Hansen and Jeffery Self's point. Perhaps, this is the truth they see in relationships, gay or not, and this would be a perfectly acceptable truth, if their character of Joe wasn't so problematic because ultimately nothing about him is consistent in this narrative. He's so childlike and sophomoric that his killings follow random impulses. He doesn't seem to have a plan. He has no preference of victims.

It would have worked better if Joe's victims were more consistent or purposeful, instead of being so random. The pattern of victims seem to be gay men of a certain type, those who are egotistical, narcissistic and only want sex. The pattern of victims seem to be of the bitchy, catty and self-involved type, but those types don't end up being his only victims. His victims turn really random.

Self and Bryan Safi who plays Barnes, the best friend of George, do provide a lot of the non-murderous humor, the aforementioned bitchy, catty and self-involved behavior. Yet, that humor is few and far between. The rest of the movie is supposed to be revelry in Joe's various murders. Sadly, Hansen directs the murder-scenes in the most boring and stilted way possible.

There's no fun to them because there's no creativity to them unlike the murder-scenes in Serial Mom. It's basically just Joe walking up to someone and effortlessly stabbing a knife or swinging a machete. There is zero energy to any of the murders. Most sloths and turtles have more energy than Joe.

What also doesn't help is that his victims don't ever fight back. The reason Joe has no energy is because he needs no energy. He all but announces and in one case does announce that he's going to kill each victim before he does so, and each victim just stands there and lets him do it. No one attempts to fight or run. They just allow themselves to be killed.

Maybe the point is that people never really want to think the worst in others, even when evidence of such is literally staring them in the face. Maybe Hansen and Self's point is that attractive, white men can literally get away with murder in the eyes of most people. The subtext of the film never supports this, which just leaves the murder-scenes as just stifling and not exciting or thrilling at all. The murders are simply stupidity on display.

Two Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains language, violence, blood, gore and rear male nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 29 mins.

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