I suspect that it’s truly difficult to find anything that would register as ‘revolutionary’ with today’s horror audiences, and that’s mostly because they’ve seen it all. Oh, every now and then something that puts a new ingredient in an old formula spices up the mix for a short time; the inevitable downside, however, is that once the flavor proves inviting then everyone has to offer the same taste. This ends up giving many releases an overall blandness that no amount of great acting or clever editing can usually overcome, and such is the case with Dale Trott’s KILLERVISION. It’s been done before – perhaps as far back as the Golden Age of Television’s THE TWILIGHT ZONE – and it’ll be done again … so the only thing that gives it a chance to find distinction are the talent, which just isn’t up-to-snuff here.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of person who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging: “Jared Dwyer has it all – a gifted mind, his girlfriend Shelby, and a brilliant future – until he and Shelby climb into a car with Shelby’s drunken, drug-addled brother, Preston. The crash was inevitable and the brain trauma Jared sustained meant that life would never be the same again. Six months after the crash, Jared’s body is healed but his dreams, plans for the future, and memory are gone. One night, the images on his TV flicker and distort …”
As can happen with product packaging, the copy writer spends far too much time telling me stuff I don’t need to know instead of getting right to the sizzle: somehow Jared discovers he has a secret ability to see things in films that aren’t there, and what he’s seeing are the murders of those closest to him almost exactly as they’re bound to happen. Essentially, the young man (as played with far too much restraint by Damien E. Lipp) finds himself in a race against time to not only uncover what’s seriously afoot here but also to determine whether or not he can stop it.
See what I mean? This isn’t necessarily a new construct. That’s perfectly ok … but if we’re collectively to find a reason to revisit this old idea then it has to be somehow tied to caring about these characters. Lipp plays Jared with too much malaise for me to get involved in his personal struggle (basically he mopes from one scene to the next, even those that should be the cause for high drama), but newcomer Susie Kazda – she plays his girlfriend/fiancé Shelby – is worth notice. She gives the picture a stronger emotional core – she clearly cares for Jared, despite the fact that no one around her seems to notice him or her (with potentially good reason, though I won’t spoil it for you, viewers!), and Kazda imbues the young woman with a kind of fresh-faced innocence that’s rarely found outside mainstream drama. As the story unfolds, I found myself caring more and more about her (though I’ll admit I saw the ending coming well into the first reel), so I stayed with this one – despite the poor pacing – all the way to the end as I wanted to see if she could handle the truth. (FYI: she did.)
As can happen with ghost stories, there’s a certain amount of predictability spooling out along the way. Working from a script by producers S.C. Farrow and Kim Standring Jacobs, Trott keeps his cards close to the chest. I just wish the film were visually more interesting. Capturing the macabre on celluloid is tough enough, but when you do it with so little style it all ends up feeling like some horror-chilled After School Special. That didn’t interest me; nor does it most audiences.
KILLERVISION (2014) is produced by 21 Black Entertainment. DVD distribution is being handled by Brain Damage Films. As for the technical specifications? Meh. This tidy little thriller has some decent visual trickery that works in concert with Jared’s killer visions; it’s too bad that director Dale Trott didn’t try to give it a stronger video palate. As for the audio? The Aussie accents made it difficult for me to understand as often as I would’ve liked what some of the poorly-miked dialogue was all about. Lastly, if you’re looking for special features, then there’s about twenty minutes of behind-the-scenes footage to explore, along with some other added incentives to explore the film via short films. Nothing all that grand.
(MILDLY) RECOMMENDED. As is often the case with many of these smaller releases that intellectually mimic the B-movies of the 1980’s, KILLERVISION has a solid idea at its core: the flaw rests in the low-budget / no-budget execution. There’s a wonderful little bit of dark magic that allows the scarred Jared Dwyer to see the unthinkable. Can he somehow come to grips with reality before it’s too late? Of course not. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a movie here.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Brain Damage Films provided me with a DVD copy of KILLERVISION by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.