Film Review: ‘Killers’

Killers Sundance

The Mo Brothers' repugnantly savage and arguably immoral pic takes torture porn to new levels of cinematic sophistication.

At two-and-a-quarter hours, “Killers” has plenty to offer genre fans — provided they don’t bolt during its opening scene of a tied-up woman being beaten to death with a mallet by Nomura (Kazuki Kitamura), a Tokyo psycho who uploads a video of the murder to his members-only website. Directed by the Mo Brothers, aka Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel (“Macabre”), this repugnantly savage and arguably immoral pic takes torture porn to new levels of cinematic sophistication while telling of exhibitionistic serial killers — Nomura and the Jakarta-based Bayu (Oka Antara) — who sickly compete for online clicks. Beware.

Pouring acid on the dead woman’s body while somber string music plays, Nomura proceeds to buy flowers from Hisae (Rin Takanashi), a sweet young lady who’s an obvious victim-to-be — or perhaps a survivor, depending on the Mo Brothers’ TBD level of mercy. In the meantime, Bayu, an unsuccessful journalist and failed husband who’s addicted to streaming Nomura’s disgusting vids, gets the idea to follow suit with the Tokyo nutcase, but in purportedly principled fashion, as Jakarta kingpin Mr. Dharma (Ray Sahetapy) is an alleged domestic abuser ostensibly overdue for payback.

Where countless crime movies have featured shootouts between rival thugs in separate cars, “Killers” stages an epic gun battle inside a single car (in widescreen, yet), with Bayu, sworn enemy of Dharma’s henchmen, barely walking away. Bayu subsequently messages Nomura, who’s eager to believe he has found a kindred killer in the half-dead journo. Indeed, the fledgling murderer breaks into a house to attack a Dharma associate and captures the heinous act on video. As a result, Bayu is targeted by a dozen of Dharma’s henchmen, leading to a wild action scene that’s implausible and inappropriate to what amounts to a slicked-up slasher film.

A ludicrously loud and grinding musical score by Fajar Yuskemal and Aria Prayogi triggers giggles, presumably by design. Gunnar Nimpuno’s vivid cinematography works in tandem with Arifin Marhan Japri’s sharp cutting to lend an upscale feel to the profoundly sleazy proceedings. With Bayu’s young daughter (Ersya Aurelia) as a potential victim, an action-filled climax set near the top of a skyscraper under construction touts the expert production design of Satoko Saito and Rico Marpaung, and recalls classic John Woo in its operatic twists. Across the board, tech credits are as accomplished as the film’s content is utterly depraved.

Film Review: 'Killers'

Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Park City at Midnight), Jan. 23, 2014. Running time: 137 MIN.

Production

(Japan-Indonesia) An XYZ Films production in co-production with Nikkatsu, Guerilla Merah Films. (International sales: XYZ Films, Marina del Rey.) Produced by Yoshinori Chiba, Kimo Stamboel, Shinjiro Nishimura, Takuji Ushiyama, Timo Tjahjanto. Executive producers, Naoki Sato, Keizo Yuri, Akifumi Sugihara, Kenjiro Toba, Daniel Mananta, Samien Lim, Kerenina Sunny, Rangga Maya Barack-Evans, Gareth Huw Evans, Andrew Suleiman, Stephen Odang, Bernhard Subiakto, Aoura Lovenson Chandra, Damon Hakim. Co-producer, Fauzar Nurdin.

Crew

Directed by Timo Tjahjanto, Kimo Stamboel. Screenplay, Tjahjanto, Takuji Ushiyam. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Gunnar Nimpuno; editor, Arifin Marhan Japri; music, Fajar Yuskemal, Aria Prayogi; production designers, Satoko Saito, Rico Marpaung; art director, Adher Rusman; set decorators, Hirohide Shibata, Gemi Nuramdhiani; costume designer, Kazuhiro Sawataishi; sound, Yusuf Patawari, Hidetoshi Gokon; re-recording mixer, Sergey Groshev; stunt coordinators, Masayoshi Deguchi, Eka “Piranha,” Ubay “Piranha,” Saad, Boy, Berlin; line producer, Ray Farandi Pakpahan; associate producers, Tomoo Fukatsu, Lim Young Chien; assistant directors, Gaku Nagao, Ginanti Rona Tembang Asri; casting, Stanlee Saklil.

With

Kazuki Kitamura, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy, Ersya Aurelia. (English, Japanese, Indonesian dialogue)

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 1

Leave a Reply

1 Comment

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Reblogged this on HORROR BOOM and commented:
    OK, we’re not sure whether this review is an endorsement to horror/gore fans (sounds like you damn well better be into both if you plan on seeing it) or a warning. When a review describes a J-horror slasher/action movie as “utterly depraved” and “profoundly sleazy,” that’s going to get it in our watch list. On the other hand, the VERY red band trailer on Dread Central (which you can watch here on their site, there’s no You Tube link) does look sort of torture-porny (even very ‘cinematic and sophisticated’ torture porn, as Variety’s reviewer Rob Nelson tells us). Every female in the trailer is a victim; though men are the victims of burnings and throat-slashings, the female victim’s deaths shown are more lingering and focused, with a little bit of the ‘what the hell is wrong with me, purposely sitting through this,’ vibe of self-disgust that certain graphic Japanese horror movies can give you. On the other hand, when a review actually tells you (in a one-word sentence) “Beware”, and is talking about the horrifying content rather than the worthlessness of sitting through the film, we’re not going to rule it out. Since the Sundance showing (we’re willing to guess at least a few moviegoers were heading for the exits during the brutal opening scene), North American distribution has been picked up by Well Go USA.

More Film News from Variety

Loading