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Friday, September 19, 2014

ScareScapes' "The Killer Inside": What Lies Behind the Wall of Coma?

"THE KILLER INSIDE" (2014)
Genre: Horror
Length- 10:50
Company: ScareScapes
Website: Official

Mr. Curtis (Stephen Riddle) is a comatose patient with a new nurse, sleazeball Kent (Roy L. Garton).  From the moment Kent walks in the door, he begins stealing Mr. Curtis' valuables, helping himself to the fridge, and doing just about everything one shouldn't do on the job. 

But the coma might not quite be as complete as Kent thinks . . . and besides, what's lurking behind the eyes of Mr. Curtis?  What kind of a man is he to begin with?

We're about to find out . . .

EVIL, EVIL THINGS

As long as we're on the topic, let's talk about what kind of people we see in "The Killer Inside".

Kent pretty much walks through the door and IMMEDIATELY his demeanor and voice just scream devious.  We're not allowed a moment to conceive of his character as anything more than a Snidely Whiplash caricature: there is no humanity inside of him, he is simply a parasite that feeds on coma victims.  He is dangerously neglectful, and it makes me wonder how on earth this guy is even employed.

Mr. Curtis, the coma victim, is necessarily vacant.  No one in the film ever comments on the kind of person he once was, but this works for his character as much of the suspense of the picture is tied up in one question: what lurks behind those unmoving eyes?  Is he thinking?  Is he angry at Kent's disrespect and outright thievery?

Even worse is Penny (Jackie Pitts), Kent's extremely young looking girlfriend.  Once again, there is no humanity on display -- she just shows up and does a sexy dance for the comatose man, just to see if she can get a rise out of him.  To her credit, she is probably the most competent thespian in "The Killer Inside" -- Garton is over acting to the extreme, Riddle basically alternates between being a blank slate and an effective but overused angry face and Shonna Small, who plays Kent's boss, is extremely uneven and sounds like she's reading the lines instead of embodying a character.

All the main characters, in other words, are extremely unlikeable and one note, and as a result, when the killing does start happening, I didn't feel anything.

Without any likeable characters or even a person who I might not like but to whom I could relate, I found myself caring less and less for what was happening.  There's a slight twist that pops up and gives the whole film a somber, sad tone, but even that is short changed by the lack of credible characters or good performances.

That being said, I enjoyed the visual style that writer/director David Karner brings to the table and there are several shots that are very effective -- the dumping of Penny's body into the closet, with her black hair sticking out, and then slamming the door shut, for instance, or the over the shoulder shot of comatose Mr. Curtis at the beginning. 

The sound and video quality were both top notch, with the lighting appropriate without being distracting.  Karner and crew know what they're doing, but the only problem is that the story and characters are not up to par with their professional production values.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 1.5 / 5.  I was never scared or disturbed by what was onscreen, nor did I feel even a little empathy toward any character, even the comatose Mr. Curtis.  We need a strong character to anchor the story, and a villain who is not a two dimensional Bad Guy.
Directing: 3 / 5.  I enjoyed Karner's visual style and found much of the film to be presented well, moving fluidly from shot to shot.
Editing: 2.5 / 5.  Overall a competent job, but one thing that was jarring was the sudden cut from Kent looking through the drawer to thinking he saw something behind him.  It cuts rapidly from drawer to screaming and then back again.  It took me right out of the story.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  I enjoyed the soundtrack of this short film, courtesy of Kevin MacLeod of Incompetech.  There's an obnoxious dance song from DJ-Nen, made all the more so by Penny's behavior in the film.
Acting: 2 / 5.  While it was better than it could have been, overall the actors weren't credible in their roles.  Pitts does the best of the lot of them.

Final Grade: 2.4 / 5.

Stop by David Karner's ScareScapes on Twitter and learn more about his latest creation . . . and don't forget to say hi on Facebook, too!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!