David Lamont moves into a high rise penthouse following his great success as a literary agent. Soon after moving in, he encounters a man who claims the penthouse belongs to him and then begins to receive packages in the mail depicting grisly murders and videotapes of him sleeping in the penthouse. With the help of a police detective, he sets out to find out who is stalking him before he becomes the next victim.
One of the perks of reviewing DVDs is the off chance you discover something new and fresh. Many of the various DVDs we get to review will be scraping the bottom of the bargain bins shortly after the review hits but sometimes one of the movies seems to have something special that helps it rise above the rest. Sometimes it is a fresh new director, sometimes it is a quality script that makes you sit up and take notice. Sometimes you get a mixture of both. With The Killing Floor, I believe we are seeing the debut of a fresh new talent in Gideon Raff as he took an interesting concept and put together a very nice film out of it.
Marc Blucas stars as David Lamont, a literary agent who has risen to the top of his profession. Somewhere along the way he has forgotten the little people that stood by him on the way to the top. He has practically turned his back on his best friend and former colleague Garrett and stole all his clients along the way. He treats his assistant Rebecca like she barely exists and seems to not notice when he is dressing her down in public. At a party he finds a writer who chose a different agent and degrades him nonchalantly. He’s pretty much an ass.
This is the reason it is hard to actually care when someone begins to stalk him the minute he moves into a new high rise penthouse. He immediately has problems when a man named Thurber shows up with a police officer and claims that the penthouse belongs to him. Thurber turns out to be the son of the former tenant and the police officer he brought in tow explains to David that the elder Thurber was pretty much above the law thanks to friends in high places. This makes things hard for David when he begins to receive pictures of grisly murders that appeared to be taken in his bathroom and no records can be found of any murder taking place at the address. When he receives a video of himself sleeping in bed at night, he decides to take matters into his own hands.
The first thing a small independent production needs to do is come up with an interesting script. While the idea of being stalked by a killer is nothing new, the twists and turns this script takes keeps the film interesting and fresh. Outside of David, there is also a woman on the 3rd floor of his building he develops a relationship with, the police officer with a strange attitude and the son of the former tenant who pops up at random times during the film. At its heart, it is a who-done-it, but at the end the film takes a turn that came from out of left field.
I believe that Raff must be a fan of the Coen brothers as this movie reminded me of Blood Simple as it was winding down. Nothing seemed to be over-the-top for the young first time director and there was a moment on a farm that really made me smile. It was pure Coen brother madness. I am not saying that Raff is anywhere near the filmmaker that the Academy Award winning brothers are, but they were not either when they were just starting out.
The second area that an independent film needs to get right if it wants to succeed is the acting. It is important to get recognizable faces and then pull solid performances from them. Marc Blucas is the face of the movie and is most recognizable as Riley from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He has appeared in a few films since then but has not really reached any solid level of success, his highest profile role as the secret service agent in the Katie Holmes vehicle First Daughter. In this film he stepped into his role comfortably. He transitioned from a rich jerk to paranoid victim seamlessly. It was a quality performance by a man who has not shown much range in the past.
The most recognizable face in the film is John Bedford Lloyd, who portrayed the officer, Detective Soll. He’s a familiar character actor who has been in everything from The Bourne Supremacy to The Abyss to C.H.U.D. He really brought some class to the film and played his role perfectly. Shiri Appleby and Reiko Ayleseorth were both solid in their roles as well. The only downfall acting-wise was Derek Cecil, who played David’s former best friend. He is the only one in the movie who appeared to be trying to act. Maybe it was his first performance where he was playing drunk, but it came across as fake.
I feel this movie is worth the time to watch, as I think it might be the start of a nice career for Raff, who showed creative talent in the picture. I had a problems with a few of the plot lines that seemed to be dropped. It is unclear what relationship the neighbor had with the younger Thurber. It is also clear exactly what the fate of that neighbor was. These are some plot holes that needed fixed but I still feel the good outweighed the bad in the film. It is a genre picture and it at times feels like it is just following the paces but when the twists and turns start coming in the second half it really takes off and proves to be something different. It may not be the best thriller out there but is definitely worth a look.
The look and sound is really good for a low budget picture. The video is presented in 16:9 letterbox and with the exception of some outdoor nighttime shots, everything looks really clear and crisp. The sound is in either 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround or Dolby Stereo 2.0. It sounds great, the music at just the right level and the dialogue and foley are prefect throughout. The only extras are trailers.