Some Guy Who Kills People (2011)

Ken Boyd, a lonely man fresh out of the loony bin, sets out to kill those he deems responsible for his miserable life.
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Some Guy Who Kills People - Ken Boyd, a lonely man fresh out of the loony bin, sets out to kill those he deems responsible for his miserable life.

Ah, the trepidation of horror-comedy; get it right, and you have the potential for a cult audience-pleaser like no other. Get it wrong, and you really get it wrong. Well, I'm pleased to report that Some Guy Who Kills People gets it incredibly right. I deliberately went into the film with no expectations about what I was going to see, but somehow, I'd convinced myself that I was in for a buddy comedy with blood and guts. This is not the case at all; what I got here was intelligent writing and characters I really cared for. Strip away all the murder and hubbub, and this is a heart-warming and often laugh-out-loud story about family which works successfully on several levels.

Ken Boyd (Kevin Corrigan) is a guy who has spent some time in a mental institution after a gruelling history of bullying laid him low as a kid. Having closed this difficult chapter of his life, he's ready to settle for just about anything: a demeaning job in an ice-cream parlour, an asshole of a boss, living with his mother (played with relish by Karen Black) ad infinitum. Whatever. Ken thinks it's good enough, and all the protestations of his only friend Irv (Leo Fitzpatrick) won't convince him otherwise. That might be it for Ken, then - and for many people like him it would be. A quiet life beckons.

And then, after a chance encounter, Amy (Ariel Gade) arrives in Ken's life. Amy is the eleven year old daughter Ken... knew he had, kinda, but in true Ken style hadn't really attempted to contact since she was a baby. Amy is not very much like dad: she's optimistic, dynamic, and it looks as though her determination to form a relationship with her father might be the key to reinvigorating things for him, as does the interest which new-girl-in-town Stephanie (Lucy Davis) shows in him.

Thing is, though, the guys who gave him hell as a teen, knocking all the fight out of him, have started to turn up... dead, murdered in a number of gruesome ways. Has Ken blown his chance to be really happy, all for the sake of revenge? How cured is Ken, really?

A fairly lightweight horror framework is used to brilliant effect, underpinned with a good dose of bloody slapstick but providing so much more than that. When Ken is frustratingly apathetic about his life, we can understand why and believe in him as a character, even as we laugh at elements of his plight. The same goes for the Sheriff, played brilliantly by Barry "Rocky Horror Picture Show" Bostwick, who is all about zany comedy and one-liners but can also act as a proper sheriff when he needs to, and mother Ruth (Karen Black) seems to be having a blast in her sardonic role here. Especial mention goes to Ariel Gade, who manages to play a savvy, independent little girl who didn't encroach into "annoying" at any point for me. (She even looks a hell of a lot like her on-screen dad.) All in all, the casting here works a charm, with an effective mix of established figures and newcomers - but it's the growing relationship between father and daughter which really carries the plot along, and it was genuinely cool to see how Amy makes Ken value his time on earth again. It's not a sentimental plot, but it does have an emotional depth, which sits pretty comfortably with the style of dialogue and the straightforward comedy elements. The script is of a very high standard and belies the film's budget, always balancing humour with that emotional depth so the film never feels disjointed. If I tell you that John Landis was the executive producer, then that ought to tell you something about the style of movie on offer...

One of the stand-out indie movies of the year, Some Guy Who Kills People is clever, enjoyable and even uplifting, in a serial-killer kind of way.
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