Written by Shannon McGrew
When I first heard about “68 Kill”, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Described as a punk rock rom-com thriller, I had a feeling it was going to be one of those films that I either loved or hated. Well, I’m happy to report that this film killed it (pun not intended) and has become one of my favorite films to come out of South By Southwest. Not only does it flip the script in terms of stereotypes so often forced upon the each opposite sex, but there is a strong message of feminism and independence that help carry the story from the beginning stages to the bloody end.
“68 Kill” centers around Chip, a sensitive and sweet boyfriend who only wants to do his absolute best to make his girlfriend Liza happy. The problem is, Liza is a little off her rocker and decides that she wants to rob her sugar daddy of $68,000 to start a new life with Chip. Chip reluctantly agrees because she’s beautiful and tenacious, and what starts as a simple breaking and entering scenario quickly ends in bloodshed and mutilated bodies. “68 Kill” is expertly directed by Trent Haaga and stars Matthew Gray Gubler, AnnaLynne McCord, Alisha Boe and Sheila Vand.
To start things off, let’s talk about the story. This film is one of those rare instances where everything is done perfectly from the moment we meet the two “love-birds” to the chaos that is rained down upon the lives of many towards the end. It’s a story that comes full circle and even shows the transformation of Chip’s character as he realizes that he has a penchant for women that some may call “unhinged”.
Chip’s character is attracted to women that are chaotic and beautiful and finds himself weak in the knees whenever he’s confronted by one. The women on the other hand show just how powerful and seductive they really are to get what they need. They hold all the cards in their hands and don’t bow down to anyone. Too often, women in film are shown as the sensitive, emotional type, so I appreciated seeing them as strong willed women who created death and destruction at every turn with a gleeful smile on their face. Throughout the 93 minute run time, the audience watches as Chip moves on from one woman to another, each bringing their own unique storyline to the table, all the while making sure the $68,000 isn’t too far from all interested parties.
As for the acting, everyone was superb and each performance was solid. Matthew Gray Gubler played the lovesick puppy to a T while AnnaLynne McCord was a powerhouse of talent and charm as the deranged Liza. Every time she was on screen, she oozed confidence and sex appeal which she combined perfectly with the unbalanced mindset that Liza inhabited. Alisha Boe was fantastic as Violet and had one of the funniest scenes in the movie in which her character and Gubler’s character get pulled over by a police officer. Trust me when I say you will be laughing till you cry over the exchange that takes place. Lastly, Sheila Vand was every emo/goth kids dream come true as Monica, the no-holds-barred, black clothes and dark eyeliner wearing, trailer-trash that gets introduced halfway through the film. Having been a fan of hers from films within the horror genre, it was a pleasant surprise to see her acting in a role unlike anything else she’s done.
I think it’s important to also note that though the film isn’t terribly long, director Trent Haaga created a world in which each of these characters lived in and when the film ended, I wanted nothing more than to dive head first into each character’s backstory to learn more about how they had become the person they were.
Those of you who are looking for that sweet, sweet bloodshed will be delighted in what transpires. From gunshot wounds, to slit necks, to a sick and twisted brother who likes to experiment on women, there is something for everyone! I was not expecting the level of carnage that unfolded throughout the film, and though I’m not typically a fan of overly gory movies, the overall butchery seemed to fit the film perfectly. I can say whole-heartedly that gore hounds will not be disappointed with the kill scenes in “68 Kill”.
Another aspect of the film that I absolutely loved was the humor. Essentially this movie has the perfect mixture of gore, laughs, romance, loss, and an overall metamorphosis rarely seen in any movies nowadays. The dark humor, which was sharp and dry, helped to offset the gore and it added a level of depth to the characters that made you like them, even though most of them had murderous tendencies.
Overall, “68 Kill” is one of the best films to come out of SXSW this year and one of my top films of 2017. It’s unique in that it combines incredible and concise storytelling with precise character development, over the top bloodshed and quality humor which makes this film unlike anything else out there. Along with all that I mentioned above, this film actually has characters that you feel for; regardless of their actions you can’t help but be drawn into their lives and the unfortunate consequences that come from it. Sure, some of them may be murderous psychopaths, but they are so God damn captivating that a part of you almost wants to give them a pass for their indiscretions. All in all, this is one of those films that you’ll never know you desperately needed in your life until after you watched it. It’s also a good reminder that it’s probably best to never fuck over a chick.