When they were little; Audrey and Marcus Miller's parents were brutally murdered during a break in and their paths became set in stone as Audrey kept her eyes closed while Marcus watched the whole thing. Eventually Audrey would become adopted from the local orphanage while Marcus was left behind due to his violent tendencies. Present day: Audrey is the dance instructor at her local Catholic school but before the show is over Marcus returns and locks everyone in the building. Looking to punish those who abused him as a child and to find his sister and make her remember who she is and who she left behind.
It seems like I've been hearing about "The Orphan Killer" forever. The movie was mostly being advertised on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook and not so much horror related media sites -- any sites who reported on it usually got their information from said sites. Postings and updates streaming twentyfourseven and then the movie finally hit DVD and...it was apparently a smash hit. Fans were calling it the bloodiest, goriest, scariest, best movie ever -- a new horror icon has emerged as they said. But almost everyone from the circles I run around with who heard of the movie hadn't seen it, and like me, were hesitant about jumping on the bandwagon and buying the DVD. At the same time, everyone wanted to know what all the hullabaloo was about and to see if this movie would live up to the hype from the advertisement. Even our buddy James DePaolo threatened to quit on the Mega Cast podcast episode of The Conduit Speaks if the movie was as good as everyone was saying. Well, I finally got my greasy mitts on the movie and watched it over the weekend and I was kind of surprised by what I saw.
I've been covering a lot of slashers lately and the one thing I continuously harp on is the basicness of the movie or the concept -- that is simply because slashers are as formulaic as you can get. However, the recent string of slasher movies seems to want to do one of three things: either be a homage based throwback, be self-aware, or make a convoluted mess in an attempt to make an 'intelligent' slasher. Kind of an oxymoron but any one of those directions usually leads to an utterly shitty movie and this is where "The Orphan Killer" did something that I liked and is the biggest reason why I enjoyed it. "The Orphan Killer" is a slasher's slasher. There are no previous decade throwbacks, no homages, no references, it isn't self-aware, and all it wants to be is an honest to goodness slasher movie. It's about a masked killer stalking his sister and killing anyone and everyone around him. That's it. No more. No less.
I started talking about the movie on a forum and someone chimed in to say (they thought) that it was a dumb movie. Well, yeah but that goes without saying. This person wasn't wrong but slasher movies by nature are not thoughtful or intelligent -- it's mindless entertainment. They always have been and people shouldn't be lying to themselves about this. They had plot holes, inconsistencies, idiotic characters, and a majority of them ran on 'popcorn logic'. That's one of the enjoyable things about "The Orphan Killer", it goes back to that. The movie doesn't want to or try to be anything more than it is. It wants to entertain you with senseless violence about an insane killer pursuing his sister after so many years to make her remember where she came from before he kills her. In the process of making her remember, the killer, Marcus Miller, hacks and chops his way through a variety of nameless victims all for the purpose of being pure unadulterated horror fun. So, sure, in retrospect "The Orphan Killer" is dumb in some regards but it isn't anymore dumb than any other new or old slasher flick.
"The Orphan Killer" features the same pitfalls of both new and old slasher movies: an unstoppable killer (almost supernatural-like but actually isn't), characters being stupid, having random people show up just to get killed, and a few ridiculous and moments here and there. Like why Audrey Miller has these hallucinations of an adult Marcus and things being covered in blood doesn't make any sense, but then again, I really don't care. As I said; "The Orphan Killer" is a slasher. That's not an excuse for the nonsensical and the ridiculous -- it's just the way the movie is. It's what I expect out of a movie like this because that's what I got out of almost all slasher movies in the 80's. So I'm not going to crucify or lambaste a movie for continuing on the tradition of illogical horror fun. What makes a movie like "The Orphan Killer" work as opposed to a modern day turd like "Exit 33" is it knows what the audience wants: A simplistic story that works, which it does, and memorable death scenes.
Certainly if I were to take this movie seriously I'd laugh at it and brush off the idea that Marcus became an unstoppable killing machine simply because he saw his parents die and was abused by the nuns at a Catholic orphanage. Again, I don't care in the long run because I just wanted to be entertained and I was. It's a simple story that's a bit familiar without being too familiar (if you catch my drift) and then it won me over with vicious and memorable death scenes. I knew this movie was heading in the right direction when the first person gets killed by having a machete shoved threw his face. Then another where a man is dragged under the stall, stabbed in the eye, then proceeds to have his head sawed off with a rather large hunting knife. Unnecessary? Sure, but it's living up to that tradition that made us all love 80's slasher movies but without being a trendy ludicrous throwback. I mean hell; I dare your inner horror nerd not to cheer when a person gets his arm sawed off with a hacksaw, with him still alive of course, while everything becomes doused in blood.
I know I'm making it sound like I absolutely loved "The Orphan Killer" but I actually didn't. I enjoyed it because it was better than I was expecting. So I apologize if I'm over-hyping it or overselling the movie but I think it deserves some credit. It was way better than what I was expecting since all I was expecting was a terribly oversold mediocre crapfest. The fact that it is a back-to-basics slasher that works really well with a simple but good story, good pace, and some great memorable death scenes makes it better than most of the junk horror that's flooding the DTV market. Yeah, it's not revolutionary, it's not groundbreaking, it isn't going to make you think or deeply affect you. What it is, is entertaining, and that's all I'm asking for out of movies like "The Orphan Killer" these days but sadly that's becoming a pretty tall order.