A Killer Within
Thereís only one reason Iím reviewing this DVD, and his name is Ben Browder. I canít help it, I feel like I owe the guy after he had a hand in gifting me with the greatest television experience in history as part of ĎFarscapeí. Thereís no point in hiding it, so Iím telling you right from the outset: the only reason weíre reviewing A Killer Within is out of a deep sense of gratitude to Browder for starring in and kicking ass in ďFarscapeĒ. I love the guy and think heís supremely talented, even if it looks like his career is going nowhere post-Moya. That doesnít mean Iím going to give A Killer Within a good review, but the fact that Iím reviewing it at all is something of a present, since the movie is low budget, straight to video, irrelevant garbage. Not many other DVD critics are likely to bother with it. This oneís for you John Crichton.
A Killer Within is standard soft-core porn thriller material, only without any of the gratuitous sex and nudity which sells that garbage to begin with. Imagine Night Eyes II if Shannon Tweed was a tremendous prude who refused to take her top off to help solve her security problems. Well, A Killer Within kills off its Tweedesc babe right at the beginning, and then follows her lawyer husband Addison (C. Thomas Howell) around while he tries to solve her murder and save his own ass. In the mix is Addisonís friend, partner, and neighbor Sam Moss (Ben Browder). Heís there mainly to trail Addison around town and tell him to cut it out, while his wife Sara Moss (Dedee Pfeiffer) watches Addisonís kid.
Sam and Sara desperately want children, but have been unable to have any of their own. So of course, they were pathetically jealous of Addisonís family, that is until his wife ended up lying on the floor in a bloody pool. But Sam is a true friend, and Browder stalks around throwing unwarranted energy and zest into the black hole of this film. When he shows up on screen, things get sort of interesting for a minute or two, at least until the movie goes back to following around Addison. Itís a sad day indeed when Ben Browder canít even manage to get the lead in a straight to video murder thriller. I mean, the guy is playing second banana to C. Thomas Howell. What the heck has he ever done? C. Thomas Howell has been in close to eighty movies. Do me a favor and name one. No, not this one. That doesnít count.
A Killer Within is pretty standard straight to video thriller material, only without enough sex and nudity to land it a place on the bottom rental shelf of shame at Blockbuster. Without that, itís probably not going to get watched by anyone, except perhaps by hardcore Browder fans like me who pick it up merely as a favor to him. Itís a bad movie, as youíd expect and not just because it has no budget. I suppose the big twist at the end is kind of interesting (if completely obvious), and the performances arenít horrible. If you try to watch it, youíll probably end up doing a lot of fast forwarding. You wonít be missing anything.
Theyíre really trying their best with the DVD release of this film. Bear in mind, this is a micro-budget indie weíre dealing with her, so you canít expect flashy menus and top notch, slick documentaries. In fact, the menu loads slow and annoying. Iím impatient, so every time I had to go to the DVD root menu was a good ten seconds of fidgeting hell. But, once you get the menu screen access, theyíve included the best features they can afford. An interview section, a commentary track,, deleted scenes, and a theatrical trailer. Thanks for the trailer guys, thatís one thing none of the big studio releases ever seem to get right.
The interview section is one long string of cast, writer, and director interviews spliced together into one long cut. Thereís no way to specifically select, for instance, the interview with Ben Browder. If you just wanted to watch that, youíd have to start the interviews at the beginning and then fast forward till you see his head. Not that Iíd recommend watching him, or anyone else for that matter speak. The interviews are terrible and cheap. People keep interrupting from off camera; the person on camera yells back and forth to them, you canít hear the questions being asked. When you can make out the questions, theyíre all ridiculously inane, maybe even embarrassing. Itís not that the cast has nothing to say, itís just that thereís nothing to ask. I did sort of enjoy hearing the filmís writer talk a little, sheís a Dallas lawyer (My hauntÖ Dallas, not law offices. I wonder if there are lawyer groupies?), and a huge Farscape nut, which is why they got Ben Browder.
The commentary track is an even bigger mess, with what sounds like the entire cast and crew participating. People come in and out with reckless abandon and no one has anything worth hearing to say. The director, as he does in the interview section, tries desperately to be funny, but isnít. The film's deleted scenes fare little better, disorganized, lazy. When the film isn't good, you probably aren't going to find much to like in the stuff that was cut out.
Look, I hate bashing this film. This is a film made by filmmakers in my own neck of the woods. I love that the writer is just this normal person who wrote her first dream script and got it made with a surprisingly talented cast. I hate the thought of bumping in to any of these people at the Deep Ellum Film Festival after trashing their film. Not that theyíd know who I am (I hope). But the movieís no good, and while they really try their best, the quality of the DVD isnít exactly up there either. At least the picture quality is pretty good. Itís nice to see a low budget indie shot on film instead of the digital video. As the director points out, film has more depth. In most cases, Iím inclined to agree.
A Killer Within is no better or worse than the late night stuff youíll find on Skinemax, only it lacks the copious amounts of nudity those movies use to keep you interested. The cast is actually pretty good, but everything else, even the DVD release falls pretty flat. Good effort guys, maybe you just needed a bigger budget.
Reviewed By: Joshua Tyler