There’s only one reason I’m reviewing this DVD, and his name is Ben Browder. I can’t 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 ‘Farscape’. There’s no point in hiding it, so I’m telling you right from the outset: the only reason we’re reviewing A Killer Within is out of a deep sense of gratitude to Browder for starring in and kicking ass in “Farscape”. I love the guy and think he’s supremely talented, even if it looks like his career is going nowhere post-Moya. That doesn’t mean I’m going to give A Killer Within a good review, but the fact that I’m 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 one’s 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 Addison’s friend, partner, and neighbor Sam Moss (Ben Browder). He’s there mainly to trail Addison around town and tell him to cut it out, while his wife Sara Moss (Dedee Pfeiffer) watches Addison’s 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 Addison’s 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. It’s a sad day indeed when Ben Browder can’t 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 doesn’t 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, it’s 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. It’s a bad movie, as you’d 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 aren’t horrible. If you try to watch it, you’ll probably end up doing a lot of fast forwarding. You won’t be missing anything.
They’re really trying their best with the DVD release of this film. Bear in mind, this is a micro-budget indie we’re dealing with her, so you can’t expect flashy menus and top notch, slick documentaries. In fact, the menu loads slow and annoying. I’m 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, they’ve included the best features they can afford. An interview section, a commentary track,, deleted scenes, and a theatrical trailer. Thanks for the trailer guys, that’s 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. There’s no way to specifically select, for instance, the interview with Ben Browder. If you just wanted to watch that, you’d have to start the interviews at the beginning and then fast forward till you see his head. Not that I’d 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 can’t hear the questions being asked. When you can make out the questions, they’re all ridiculously inane, maybe even embarrassing. It’s not that the cast has nothing to say, it’s just that there’s nothing to ask. I did sort of enjoy hearing the film’s writer talk a little, she’s a Dallas lawyer (My haunt… 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 isn’t. 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 they’d know who I am (I hope). But the movie’s no good, and while they really try their best, the quality of the DVD isn’t exactly up there either. At least the picture quality is pretty good. It’s 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, I’m inclined to agree.
A Killer Within is no better or worse than the late night stuff you’ll 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.