The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Profile of a Killer (2012)

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A couple weeks ago Jasmine Reid, producer of Profile of a Killer, came to me to see if I could review her film, and we're making it happen now.  Also, our friend Vic at Vic's Movie Den hit this one, so you can go there to see what he thought.  Now let's see what I thought.

Profile of a Killer is about a serial killer who's dumping bodies along US-61 in Minnesota.  Saul (Gabriele Angieri), a well known FBI profiler from Florida, is called in to investigate, and before he knows it, the killer kidnaps him.  The killer is a teenage boy (Joey Pollari), and he wants Saul to profile him.  Now Saul is at the mercy of this child killer and needs to use all of his skills in dealing with serial killers to stay a live.  Hot on their trail is Rachel (Emily Fradenburgh), a local detective, who takes over the case after Saul is kidnapped.  Will they be able to stop this boy and his killing spree?

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This definitely had its moments, and I wouldn't call it a bad film, but it was long-- like almost 2 hours-- and there really wasn't enough material here for something that long.  I personally saw a great moment to wrap the film up around the 45-minute mark, and while I'm not saying there weren't moments after that that weren't great too, I just don't know how much I needed them.  This easily could've been a solid two-part story arc on a show like Criminal Minds, maybe like an end of the season cliff-hanger, and in that capacity it would've mitigated another area that I had a problem with: poor character development.  If this had been a two-part episode in an established crime drama, we already would've had characters we knew as a base from which to start this, and it could've hit the ground running.  Instead, we had bits and pieces of character development, but it either felt grafted in, like Rachel's moment with her fellow detective, or came at a moment when we needed to move things a long quicker, like Rachel talking to the killer's parents near the end of the film.  Again, this isn't horrible, and maybe even the length wouldn't kill you, so if you're a fan of shows like Criminal Minds this might be worth checking out if you see it at your RedBox kiosk or something.

Anyone who's been rockin' with me for a while knows that a film's length is a sticking point, and I'll tell you why.  I think it was Roger Corman who said the perfect length is 88 minutes, because it fit on 11 reels and made it cheaper to pack than a 90-minute film; but for the sake of argument we'll go with 90 minutes as the optimum length.  90 minutes gets the viewer in and out without asking for too much of an investment, yet at the same time that's ample time to tell us what you need to tell us.  Anything after 90 minutes is borrowed time, so the first 90 needs to be of such high quality that we don't realize we've been watching for that long, and as I mentioned above, the 45-minute mark looked like a great place to start wrapping things up, so by 90 we were already well onto borrowed time.  Considering we already knew who the killer was, we'd seen him kill multiple people, now all we needed to do was get to Rachel finding him, so it was only a matter of time before we were spinning our wheels in place, with all the tension dried up.  That was too bad, because there were some really great tense moments that got my heart rate up, which is what I want from a film like this, I just want them in a smaller package with less packing tape surrounding them.

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Gabriele Angieri as Saul was great, and he affected that vibe of a Joe Mantegna in Criminal Minds or Anthony LaPaglia in Without a Trace, which made him a very compelling protagonist.  Again though, this is the kind of story that you drop him into after the season's previous 12 episodes where we've seen him crack however many other cases, or maybe three or four other TV movies that established his character.  I know the market is flooded with TV shows like that, which kind of puts this film and his character in a spot where we wonder "what are they bringing to the table?  Why do I need Gabriele Angieri when I can have Joe Mantegna?"  You know I don't know, I guess maybe because you've seen all the episodes of your favorite crime drama so much that you need something new but along the same lines, and in that sense, Angieri gives you that guy you're familiar with and you're looking for when you pick something like this up from RedBox.

I really liked the idea of the killer being a kid who grew up with no hardships and, as such, had no means of forming his identity.  I used to be fascinated by the Sweet Sixteen show on MTV for the same reason, watching these young girls who have never wanted for anything searching for some sense of self and validation from the outside world.  The problem though is that the character devolves into the bitter teen anon troll we see all over the Internet.  I was waiting to see him show Saul his OK Cupid page where he complains about how he's always "friendzoned".  While it's a cool idea in theory, and might work really well in that TV drama capacity I discussed above, it doesn't make for a very compelling villain, no matter how well Joey Pollari played him.  And that's another area where the run time creeps in, because we're done with this kid's anon trolling manifesting itself in killing and indulgent conversations with Saul by the 45-minute mark, and we wish we could just block him and he'll go away.

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SPOILER ALERT!!!!   SPOILER ALERT!!!!   SPOILER ALERT!!!!
This character here was known only as "hooker", and she's the first victim killed by our villain while Saul is his captive.  The scene when Saul wakes up and hears through the baby monitor in his room that the killer has her in his killing station is so chilling and tense, I felt like it made up for the previous 30 minutes where not much happens.  The problem was, it let us off the hook.  It comes and goes so fast, and then we're treated to a scene the next morning where the killer shows Saul her dead body.  What a wasted opportunity.  Take us into the room, and I'm not saying you need to be too macabre, but now that you've got us, really get us and leave us wondering what he's going to do to her-- and she wonders what he's going to do to her.  Keep my heart racing, and use it as a means to really explore the killer's character organically.  Maybe she says something that sets him off.  Maybe she does something that causes him to hesitate.  Why does he react the way he does?  You can have a 2-hour movie as long as the right scenes are longer.  I can think of another where Rachel is investigating a warehouse, and instead of giving us long takes that drive up the tension of the unknown, we get quick jumpcuts and before we know it the scene is over and no action happens.  Contrast that with the scene at the end where Rachel meets the killer's parents.  We're already over an hour into the film, we know that she's going to learn a key piece of information that will get her to Saul's location, this is no time to draw things out, yet here's where the film decides to do that.  It was frustrating.
END SPOILER!!!!   END SPOILER!!!!   END SPOILER!!!!

So this is ultimately a pass for me, but I do think someone who likes the serial killer TV crime drama might enjoy this, even at the longer run time.  As far as I can tell, Amazon VOD or on DVD from them is the only way to go, so if you're a fan of shows like Criminal Minds, a $4 Amazon VOD rental might not be the worst thing for you, though if it ever ends up on RedBox or Netflix Instant, that would be better.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2387543/

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