68 Kill

****1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Trailer party tonight
"On the one level, 68 Kill is pure pulp trash, harking back to director Trent Haaga's Troma roots. On the other, it's brilliantly done."

Chip (Matthew Gray Gubler) has a girlfriend who is the talk of the town. It's not so much that she's out of his league as that she's playing roller derby and he's playing hopscotch. Fierce, supremely confident and highly sexed, Liza (AnnaLynne McCord) has always been a lot to handle, but Chip has been happy that way. Naturally submissive, he's happy doing what he's told when what he's told is generally something he'd like to do anyway. Liza, however, is an ambitious young woman, and what she wants Chip to do now is something wholly different.

It goes like this: Liza's sugar daddy is storing $68,000 in his house overnight. Foolishly, he's told her about it. Perhaps it didn't seem like a lot of money to him, but to her and Chip it's a ticket out of small town oblivion. So they'll go in, they'll take it, they'll go out, and they'll leave town. The guns are just in case. Nobody's going to get hurt.

Copy picture

Things, as is their wont, do not go to plan.

What follows is a wild cross-country ride in which Chip begins to figure out that the woman to whom he has devoted himself is not just sexily crazy but actually quite severely unhinged, that her surgically-obsessed brother is even worse, and that, despite it all, he just can't resist a pretty face. Not just her pretty face - which is where things get really complicated. Skinny, unsure of himself and unable to hide his emotions (especially when his life depends on it), Chip is one of those guys who exudes masochistic appeal, so that even sweet women immediately take charge of him. And some of the women in this film are very far from sweet.

On the one level, 68 Kill is pure pulp trash, harking back to director Trent Haaga's Troma roots. On the other, it's brilliantly done. The Tarantino comparisons are fully deserved in a thriller that glories in the worst of human nature and loves nothing more than excess. Gubler holds it together as a fundamentally decent guy who is way, way out of his depth yet has enough courage and persistence to keep the audience caring about his fate. McCord builds on the fine work she did in 2012's Excision to make Liza a psychopath who may seem hopelessly whimsical but has a clear sense of self behind it all. TV star Alisha Boe balances sweetness and toughness ably in a well deserved central role that ought to lead to more, and Sheila Vand brings the force of personality she showed in A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night to make it a party.

Haaga's direction is all about creating the illusion of chaos whilst maintaining precise control. He's aided by strong cinematography, set design and music, with the whole coming together amazingly well given the limitations of the budget. The pace never slackens and the tension never lets up in a film that's as full of life as it is of grisly deaths. Pulp has met punk, and the result is spectacular.

Reviewed on: 27 Aug 2017
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A sewage worker is sweet talked by his glamorous girlfriend into robbing her sugar daddy, but nothing goes to plan.

Director: Trent Haaga

Writer: Trent Haaga, Bryan Smith

Starring: Matthew Gray Gubler, AnnaLynne McCord, Alisha Boe, Sheila Vand, Sam Eidson

Year: 2017

Runtime: 93 minutes

Country: US


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