This film hit me like the meteor that smashes into the earth in the opening minutes. When I popped it in my DVD player, I figured I was in for your typical slasher yawner, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It is a slasher movie and all of the cabin in the woods conventions are used to one extent or another, but THE KILLING OF JACOB MARR uses every slasher cliché, bends them over, and makes them its bitch with a likable cast and a strong script.
The strength of THE KILLING OF JACOB MARR lies in the writing. The script is witty and self referential without being annoying like most of the SCREAM films. The characters in this film are smart. They talk like normal friends, ripping each other apart one minute and then sharing tender moments the next, but none of the lines seem fake or as if they are just meant to move the plot along to get to the gory bits. Here writer/director Brad Rego takes his time and allows the audience to really get to know the main trio of characters and it turns out they are pretty damn likable. When the blood starts being shed, you actually give a shit, which is good because the method behind the madness of the moon rock killer is not really explained. But you are having such a good time watching the cast interact that I didn’t really notice.
Though the cast may be full of relatively unknowns, they are surprisingly good, especially the main three: Ted (Morgan White, the sensitive lead), Dan (Brandon Beilis, his impulsive buddy), and Claire (Alyssa Mann, the object of Ted’s desires who looks at him as friend-zone material). The back-and-forthings in this film made me forget I was watching a horror movie (which is what every horror movie tries to do, but most fail miserably at). Here, as one pair teams up to rag on the third, it really feels like these guys have been friends for a long time. These three look familiar, as if I’ve seen them in commercials or something, but there’s real talent here and as good as the script is, these actors spouting the witty and sometimes serious lines show the spark of future superstars.
This is a low budgeter, though. So those looking for slickly produced horror are probably going to find THE KILLING OF JACOB MARR a bit rough to digest. I was so invested in the characters that I didn’t realize the film was almost two hours long. The run time is a bit excessive and a nip and tuck here and there in the editing room maybe down about twenty minutes would make for a smoother film. Then again, I totally understand the director’s decision to keep in the relational scenes between the actors. They are what sets this film apart, but it does take a long time for the action to start involving the killer in the title of the film.
But once the killer is revealed and the grue starts flowing, THE KILLING OF JACOB MARR works as a horror film too with bone knives getting stabby, faces getting ripped off, and copious amounts of blood is splattered in the faces of the actors. Brad Rego has a fun independent horror film on his hands and though the budget is low, there’s a lot of potential in the movie I saw. Take, for example, this interaction;
One character rushes into a room: “I saw something outside.”
“Like the darkness!” responds another character.
C’mon, that’s some funny shit. Funnier than most of the stupid jokes in what studios try to pass off as horror these days. THE KILLING OF JACOB MARR may have a low budget, but it’s got a stellar script, smartly acknowledged horror clichés, and a likable cast of characters.