Sunday, April 28, 2013

'Killer Weekend' is made watchable by strong acting performances

Killer Weekend (2007)
Starring: Eric Roberts, Frida Farrell, Jake Terrell, Cherie Johnson, and Jenna Colby
Director: Rob Walker
Rating: Three of Four Stars

An abusive husband (Roberts) goes full-scale psychopathic killer when his sister-in-law (Farrell) and friends come to spend the weekend with his wife (Colby).

"Killer Weekend" is one of those films that is technically incompetent on almost every level--the dialogue is clunky, the script is badly done with virtually no story element properly developed, and the cinematography is incompetent with many scenes being badly framed and a number of traditional niceties being almost completely absent (I think I only noticed one proper two-shot in the entire film)--but which is made watchable by strong performances by actors who deserved better material than what they were working with.

The main reason to watch this movie is Eric Roberts. He is once again playing an eccentric lunatic, but the combination of smarm and homicidal mania makes the character lots of fun to watch. The character is, like every other character in the film, paper-thin, but Roberts plays him with such psychopathic glee that it hardly matters. It would have been nice if he had been a little less of a cypher as far as where he had come from, how he got to be so rich, and why he went from being an abusive control freak to a psycho-killer, but Roberts is so good here that I can forgive the bad story-telling.

Two other stand-out performances are given by Frida Farrell (strangely credited as Frida Snow) and Cherie Johnson. While Farrell's character ultimately ends up as a stereotypical last-minute bad-ass who survives via bad writing, and Johnson's character ultimately ends up as just another murder victim (although dispatched in one of the more sadistic ways in the film), the performances given by both of them make their characters rise above the bland writing. If a little more effort had been put into the script, these would have been great characters--Johnson's character in particular since there were hints about her being psychic. Those hints didn't go anywhere, though, and ultimately just end up as a random, pointless element in the story--like the Mexican gardener who stumbles around for two days fatally wounded, or the two house guests who arrive in a separate car. If these two fine actresses had been given better material, they could have been great here. (And speaking of better material--if you're going to put a shower scene in your film, especially if its got a hottie like Farrell in the shower, pay her enough money to make the shower scene matter!)

I am rating "Killer Weekend" a generous Three Stars, almost entirely on the strengths of the performances given by Roberts, Farrell, and Johnson. Almost everything else here is either forgettable or bad--although I will say that the death of Johnson's character is one of the creepiest ones I've seen in my 30 or so years of watching horror flicks. In fact, all the business surrounding the samurai sword is extremely disturbing and far better realized than any other part of the film. Still, the bad here so outweighs the good that the only reason to check out this film is if you're a fan of Roberts or looking for something to round out a slasher movie-centric bad movie night.

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