×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Karla

The object of a current firestorm of controversy in Canada, "Karla" will soon be forgotten everywhere else, footnoted in the annals of psycho-killer movies as a creepy but botched work.

With:
Karla Homolka - Laura Prepon Paul Bernardo - Misha Collins Molly - Tess Harper Dr. Arndt - Patrick Bauchau

The object of a current firestorm of controversy in Canada, “Karla” will soon be forgotten everywhere else, footnoted in the annals of psycho-killer movies as a creepy but botched work. While it attempts to adhere to the true-life, sensational Canadian murder case involving Karla Homolka and her husband Paul Bernardo, pic positions Karla as manipulated by Paul while failing to give equal consideration to her possible role as a co-mastermind. Canuck protests against the film on these grounds appear well founded, but have nonetheless served to boost Canadian B.O. since pic’s Jan. 20 bow and its future Yank theatrical prospects.

“Karla” has the rough, low-grade look of an early Roger Corman film, giving the tantalizing hope of an entertaining trash-a-thon. But that never emerges.

Script by Michael D. Sellers, Manette Beth Rosen and director Joel Bender adopts the hokey framework of incarcerated Karla (Laura Prepon) being interviewed by court-appointed Dr. Arndt (Patrick Bauchau) to determine if she’s eligible for parole. It’s Karla’s story, in essence, and although she may be the most unreliable of narrators, neither the script nor the alluring, likable Prepon encourages aud skepticism.

Such a stance places pic in a morally precarious position, as Karla tells of her seduction of handsome beau Paul (Misha Collins), with her sexually aggressive behavior that somehow slipped into nasty sex games led by Paul, involving Karla’s younger sis Tammy (Cherilyn Hayres), with whom Paul is obsessed.

Karla’s eventual murder conviction was based on Paul’s videotaping of a session in which Tammy was poisoned by Karla; druggy action here indicates a grayer area, however, in which Tammy’s death could have been accidental.

The downhill spiral into a nasty co-dependency — Paul’s hunger for raping and killing young women nurtured by Karla’s subservience and willingness to let him do whatever he wants, including repeatedly slugging her in the face — is much less enlightening and involving than it should be.

There’s a certain darkly suffocating quality to the chamber drama played out by these two sick souls, but the fact that the film is more willing to explicitly show Paul’s constant beatings of Karla than the worst aspects of the killings underlines who is to be seen as the victim here.

Yet, if there’s a dramatic case to be made for Karla not being partly responsible for the grisly crimes, the film never makes it, and a closing credit text stating evidence and testimony of Karla’s involvement and lack of remorse comes off as a particularly weak last-minute gambit to provide a balanced telling of the saga.

Prepon’s performance is, perhaps understandably, both extremely brave and notably confused: It’s rare for a thesp coming off a popular tube series (“That ’70s Show”) to play such an unremittingly dark character. But Prepon also seems not to know where to take her role after some early touches of bad-girl dramatics. Collins is more assured as a handsome beast, a dime-store version of Ted Bundy.

Bender’s direction is choppy and lacks style, while pic’s generally washed-out look tends to work against the creepy content rather than support it.

In a reverse of norms, production of the Canadian story was lensed entirely in Los Angeles with a largely Yank crew.

Karla

Production: A Christal Films release (in Canada) of a Moviebank and Quantum Entertainment presentation in association with MB Partners and Goldmill Prods. of a Michael Sellers production. Produced by Sellers, Marlon Parry. Executive producers, Pamela Vlastas, Manette Beth Rosen, Robert Keskemety, Don Barton. Co-executive producers, Rick Goulding, Stuart Miller. Directed by Joel Bender. Screenplay, Michael D. Sellers, Manette Beth Rosen, Bender.

Crew: Camera (FotoKem color), Charles Mills; editors, Sellers, Bender; music, Tim Jones; production designer, Freddy Naff; art director, Clark Gillie; set decorator, Natalie Brun; costume designer, Tom Bronson; makeup, Tanja Hrast; sound (Dolby Digital), Josh Steinberg; sound designer, Jeremy Hoenack; stunt coordinators, George Colucci Jr., Dennis Madalone; assistant director, Lynnette Myers; casting, Patricia Rose. Reviewed at Santa Barbara Film Festival, Feb. 8, 2006. Running time: 102 MIN.

With: Karla Homolka - Laura Prepon Paul Bernardo - Misha Collins Molly - Tess Harper Dr. Arndt - Patrick BauchauWith: Leonard Kelly-Young, Alex Boyd, Cherilyn Hayres, Kristen Swieconek, Sarah Foret.

More Film

  • 'Captain Marvel' Lands Day-And-Date China Release

    'Captain Marvel' Lands Day-And-Date China Release

    Marvel Studios’ hotly-anticipated Brie Larson-starring blockbuster “Captain Marvel” will hit Chinese theaters on the same day as it debuts in North America. The female-led picture will release on March 8, 2019, International Women’s Day. Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the film tells the story of Carol Danvers, a former fighter pilot who joins [...]

  • Peter Rabbit trailer

    Australia Box Office Recovers, Grows 3.8% in 2018

    Gross theatrical box office in Australia grew by 3.6% in 2018, to $890 million (A$1.25 billion). The score was propelled by a rebound in the performance of the top local films. Data from the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia published Tuesday showed aggregate cinema revenues recovering after a dip in 2017. While the 2018 [...]

  • Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics

    Q&A: Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics While Hosting the SAG Awards

    Megan Mullally is funny. The “Will & Grace” star can also sing and dance. While she’s not picking up the Oscar hosting gig after the Kevin Hart fiasco, Mullally will take center stage on Sunday, Jan. 27 when she makes her debut as the host of the 25th annual SAG Awards. Variety caught up with [...]

  • Glass trailer

    'Glass': Five Box Office Takeaways From M. Night Shyamalan's Thriller

    With his fifth No. 1 box office opening, M. Night Shyamalan has plenty to celebrate. “Glass,” the conclusion to a trilogy that consists of the 2000 cult hit “Unbreakable” and 2016’s box office sensation “Split,” topped the box office last weekend — though its win comes with a few caveats. James McAvoy reprised his role [...]

  • Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama

    Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama Title 'Family Members' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Patra Spanou has picked up world sales rights to “Los miembros de la familia” (Family Members), which will world premiere in the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section. Variety has been given an exclusive first look of the film’s trailer. The film is the second feature from writer/director Mateo Bendesky, and is produced by Agustina Costa [...]

  • Great Point Media, The Development Partnership

    Great Point Media, Development Partnership Join Forces on Slate of Movies

    Great Point Media and The Development Partnership, the development and production arm of the talent agency the Artists Partnership, are joining forces to develop, package, and co-produce multiple films, kicking off with three projects, including “Chasing Agent Freegard,” starring James Norton (“War & Peace”). “Chasing Agent Freegard,” which is being produced by “Captain Phillips” co-producer [...]

  • Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’

    Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’ Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sandro Fiorin’s Miami-based FiGa Films, a leading sales agent on the independent Latin American scene, has announced the acquisition of Brazilian doc “Landless,” and released a trailer for the Costa Rican-Spanish drama “El despertar de las hormigas.” Both features will play at this year’s Berlinale Forum and come from young Latin American filmmakers making their [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content