Thursday, August 27, 2009
The Killing Gene
The relative success of films like Saw and Hostel have given rise to a new subgenre know as “torture porn.” At first glance, the 2007 film The Killing Gene (known as WΔz outside the U.S.) seems to fit the category, but to me it rises above that limited class of movies.
New detective Helen Westcott (Melissa George) arrives at the scene of a brutal murder. A young pregnant woman has been electrocuted and her body dumped. Westcott is assigned a new partner, the precinct “asshole” Eddie Argo (the brilliant Stellan Skarsgård). They discover the symbols WΔz have been carved into the body (this is the first part of the Price Equation, by which geneticists and ethicists examine the behavior of animals).
The detectives soon discover the killer is conducting cruel “experiments” in which someone is tied to a chair and tortured, while the person they love most is strapped into an electric chair. To end the torture, all they have to do is press the switch and electrocute the one they love. They also find the victims are all linked to a terrible crime which occurred a few years previously.
This is a somber movie, but manages to focus on the depths of the characters rather than the gore. The cast is excellent, although the final “revelation” is somewhat telegraphed, in my opinion. It does a good job of manipulating how you feel about events without falling into many of the predictable traps.
The biggest problem with the movie was the somewhat muddy sound quality (I don’t know if it had anything to do with it, but while the actors use generic American accents, they are mostly from outside the U.S.A., and that would probably require even more ADR than usual). Be prepared to turn subtitles on occasionally to understand what is said.