Killer Instinct 2000 Review
Killer Instinct 2000
Directed by: Ken Barbet
Starring: Corbin Bernsen, Dee Wallace, Paige Moss
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Killer Instinct opens with a horde of vigilantes chasing a bloodied someone through some smartly lighted woodland. After he stops off to stab an unfortunate fellow that has his back turned, they eventually catch up with the assailant, throw him to the floor and overpower the blood splattered stranger. He must’ve really upset these townsfolk because out comes the noose and the unidentified man is hung by the neck until the screen fades.
Clichés abound when the words 15 years later pop up on the screen and we’re introduced to a troupe of banal teens that discuss a massacre that occurred as many years earlier, which it seems was all the work of the aforementioned guy that we saw strung up in the pre-credits. (Explanation is not the film’s strong point) Meanwhile, in the background, we are given a sub-plot concerning a businesswoman (Dee Wallace Stone) who wants – or is trying to purchase – some property from a ‘desperate for the pay-cheque’ Corbin Bernsen. Anyway back to the teens, who are now talking about spending the night in the abandoned asylum where the slayings took place a decade and a half earlier. Their posse consists of the all the typical ingredients that are now solidly encrypted into the slasher movie guidebook: annoying guy, slut, randy couple, token (and first to be killed) black dude and girl that can sense the danger that lies ahead. Come on, by now you know the drill!
They finally make their way into the desolate building, which really looks a lot more like a normal house. It’s also worth noting that for a place that has been left to rot for fifteen years, it’s extremely well preserved. There are no light bulbs, so an unusually large amount of candles give us our lighting (but where on Earth did they get them? I counted maybe one rucksack) Meanwhile unbeknownst to them, their chances of leaving have just taken a down-slide due to the doors and windows being mysteriously locked.
After a while, it’s decided that a game is in order, preferably one that’ll split the group up so they can wonder off to their doom. They choose to take off their underwear and put it in a bag so someone else can hide them around the location, before they all separate and search out the garments (seriously!). But before they leave, Wendy (Paige Moss) digs through the briefs and shows them off so that everyone can have a giggle at what their friends were wearing. (I am not kidding, this actually happened). First slasher victims that I’ve seen with underwear fetishes.
It’s hardly shocking when we learn that a masked killer seems to think that their numbers need trimming and sets up some death traps around the place so that they stumble upon their impending fate…
Killer Instinct boasts some competent photography and the darkened set locations look fairly spooky. The methods of murder are authentic and also a bit more creative than I was expecting. My favourite was when a guy lying on a bed was showered with broken glass from a trap door above him. One piece slices straight through his stomach and is next seen sticking to the floor below the mattress. There was also a smart decapitation and the use of a venomous snake, which is at least, a new one on me.
When the killer is unmasked at the end, you’ll be fairly surprised at the conclusion. I must admit that it wasn’t one that I’d have immediately guessed. But it has to be said that it was rather impossible for him to commit the murders before changing clothes inexplicably quickly so as to keep up the appearance of innocence. Credit should be given to the director for taking out the most annoying character first. If we’d have had to suffer his painful gurning any longer, I’m sure pressing the eject switch would’ve become a more burning temptation.
‘Every cliché has a grain of truth in it.’ Mouths one dim-witted character, which could only have been included in the script as an attempt to excuse the director’s blatant purloining from previous genre pieces. Here it looks like he’s been watching the housebound slashers of yesteryear like House of Death and House on Sorority row, using them as subject matter for this obvious imitation.
The cast is just what you’ve come to expect from this grade of movie. You know, lame, untalented and completely uninspired. Paige Moss was probably the most convincing, but she was still weak. Bernsen and Stone were equally uninterested and were both really slumming it and adding yet another nail to their rapidly sinking career coffins.
It is the horrendous lack of pacing and equally poor efforts at generating any kind of interest that are the main flaws. The two separate plot lines seem as if they have very little in common with one another and I found it hard to keep track of the names of any of the characters, because they were so instantly forgettable. I really couldn’t find anything to be excited about in either the failed attempts at suspense or the leisurely paced showdown. At one point the house caught fire, which sparked some amusing shots of a scaled model burning that were so obviously fake, it was painful.
I can’t really think of many pluses, except to say that at least this movie was more an out and out slasher than yet another ‘I know the rules’ semi-parody. I believe that director Ken Barbet was actually aware of the titles of the boom years and really wanted to make his own inclusion to line up alongside the old-skool heavyweights instead of just trying to be clever and mock them. But with that said, it’s offerings as mediocre as Killer Instinct that are killing off the stalk and slash genre. Although famous for its staggering repetition, the loveable sub-category needs ambition and reinvention if it’s going to survive many more years. I bought this because I read somewhere that it was gory with a healthy production. But it’s not, it’s just lame and ultimately poor.
Oh and don’t trust the cover picture. There are no skeletons here…
Final Girl √√