You have to admire an independent film maker with passion, vision and enthusiasm. Names like Loyd Kaufman, Roger Corman, Ryan Nicholson, Steven C. Miller, Ulli Lommel and Uwe Boll spring to mind. These are all low-budget filmmakers that have managed to define their own style and build a fan base due to their unique styles. While you may not like all of their films, you have to admire the fact that they continue to make honest to god horror movies that beat with heart of independent horror.
It may be early to discuss Matt Farnsworth’s career due to the fact that he’s only made two full length films but there is no denying the man has style. I started hearing about The Orphan Killer years ago. It started with a random convention appearance, then a mention or two online. It got to the point where I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I appreciate that kind of effort and I have real respect for filmmakers that are able to build that kind of buzz.
The Orphan Killer is about Marcus Miller and his sister Audrey who are orphaned at a young age after their parents are murdered. Unable to cope, Marcus goes insane and is committed to a sanitarium while Audrey is adopted and grows up to become a teacher at a Christian academy. Everything seems to be normal for Audrey until the day of horror comes when Marcus returns to teach her about the true definition of family.
What struck me immediately about The Orphan Killer is how great it looks. There are wide panning shots of cars and bridges. There are dingy halls stained with blood. It’s all crystal clear and looks great. The movie looks expensive and Farnsworth knows how to frame a shot.
While I admired the obvious care taken with the subject matter, the soundtrack was a different story. Like classic Italian schlock slashers from the eighties such as Dario Argento’s Opera, sludge metal spews out every time things get violent on screen. It very nearly derailed the movie for me. It’s fair to say everyone might not feel the same way, but for many this will be a sticking point.
A serious dearth of any real character moments in the film was also a problem. I can appreciate what director Matt Farnsworth is going for and the movie is a blast when there is violence on display. But at over an hour, there have to be those quiet moments too and those are when Orphan Killer is at its weakest.
Clocking in over 80 minutes long, Orphan Killer might be overlong. There are scenes that drag on, specifically those with moments of gratuitous torture. But most of the movie flies by. The school atmosphere is fun but confusing. The religious nature of it seems all but inconsequential to the story and seems merely to exist for shock value.
But none of these flaws ruin Orphan Killer. The violence is the showpiece and on this level the movie is a success. Blood paints the walls and there is plenty of glorious latex to behold. We see decapitated heads, eyes gouged out and severe head trauma. As for the killer, Marcus Miller is an impressive boogeyman with an ominous voice and intimidating physical presence.
As his sister, Diane Foster is sufficient. Her acting isn’t great and it doesn’t need to be. She is suitably tough and incredibly sexy. She provides the movie with its T&A during a lengthy shower scene.
The Orphan Killer is a really fun movie. It introduces Marcus Miller as a brutal killer with a human nemesis that we can root for. While its influences are painfully obvious, the execution is excellent. Matt Farnsworth has a lot of enthusiasm and hopefully we will enjoy his movies for years to come.