The Orphan Killer

Published on Saturday, July 23, 2011
The Orphan Killer

** Contains Spoilers **

Audrey and Marcus are brother and sister. When sadistic killers break into their home and (without explanation or provocation) stab their parents to death, they are orphaned and the Church takes them in and cares for them. The older sibling, Marcus, is bullied by the other children, and retaliates by exacting a brutal revenge. He is whipped by the nuns who run the orphanage and (inexplicably) forced to don a terrifying mask, further ostracising him from his peers and distancing him from reality. At the same time his sister is adopted by a loving family and returned to a normal life.

In such a way is horror cinema’s newest icon, the Orphan Killer, born. In director Matt Farnsworth’s mind, anyway. In reality, THE ORPHAN KILLER is as crude and artless an example of pointless torture porn as I’ve ever encountered. The violence is sustained and unflinching, reaching new heights of sickening sadism. It’s also completely unconvincing. A combination of woeful acting on the part of the victims and bargain basement special effects render most of the deaths more comedic than shocking. And the score doesn’t help. Every time anything ‘cool’ or violent happens we’re treated to a deafening blast of grinding, uninspired heavy metal that’s almost as difficult to listen to as the film is to watch.

Some of these shortcomings could have been forgiven if it had anything original to say, but THE ORPHAN KILLER is unrelentingly derivative. Apart from borrowing liberally from such classics as CARRIE and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, it steals most of its premise from HALLOWEEN. Unlike Michael Myers, however, Marcus Miller (even the names are similar) is depressingly verbose, indulging in one ludicrously scripted diatribe after another. His sister, played by Diane Foster, is the only one to emerge from the whole grubby experience with even a shred of credibility. She’s no Jamie Lee Curtis, but she’s a convincing victim and endures the exploitatively overlong shower scene with stoic good grace.

Religious imagery abounds. Most of the action is set in an (admittedly enormous) church, and the killer delights in taking his revenge on the corrupt priests and nuns (one of whom, in lieu of nothing, is introduced via a random act of fellatio) who inhabit it. Far from making a deliberate political or social statement, however, the anti-religious stance seems to be just another example of attention-seeking taboo-busting. That said, if your idea of a good time is watching endless scenes of an inarticulate masked moron breaking things and hacking up nuns with an axe, this is the film for you.

The flimsy story is padded by frequent shots of characters walking slowly down corridors, and still barely clocks in at 80 minutes. Terribly acted and with all the narrative sophistication of a Katie Price autography, 80 minutes has never seemed so long. Do yourself a favour and avoid this cheap and nasty HALLOWEEN rip-off.

Score: 1.5 out of 5
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