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KILLER WHALES (2022)
Directed by Willow Hamilton.
Written by Wyatt Bunce.
Starring Wyatt Bunce, Greg Vrotsos, Neal Bledsoe, Michael Cognata, Anthony Carrigan, Kristin Couture, Thom Reidy, Harry Dreyfuss, A.B. Farrelly, Amandla Jahava, Drew Brandon Jones, Kiel Kennedy
A rookie filmmaker named Donny Wunder (the film’s writer Wyatt Bunce) attempts to make a documentary about the death of an influencer who was murdered in his bathtub. With a handful of suspects but no experience making a movie, the film’s producer pairs Wunder with an embittered, yet experienced director Francis Falconi (Greg Vrotsos). In order to solve the case, the two filmmakers must work together and try not to kill each other.
While there is a dead body in a bathtub and the use of quite a large amount of fake blood in the reenactments, KILLER WHALES is less of a horror film and more of a dark comedy mockumentary. All of the players, which also include BARRY’s Michael Cognata as a goth poet and also a suspect, do a decent job of bringing these over the top characters to life. While the ridiculousness is amped to the max, writer Bunce and his director Willow Hamilton make this a compelling swipe at documentary filmmaking which seems to be all of the rage these days. The fact that the filmmaker Wunder is paired with is a pretentious experimental filmmaker Falconi sets up a wonderful dichotomy with Wunder’s sincere journey to find the truth. The reenactments Falconi sets up are trippy and over the top, yet somehow fit right in with the documentary feel of the film.
Some of the best scenes in KILLER WHALES are the pressure-fueled back and forthings between Wunder and Falconi. Falconi is doing this job because of a court order while this is a passion project for Wunder. Seeing their two styles collide is over the top fun; one director is a wizened and jaded film director with many a film in his resume, and the other a newb who has never made a film yet eagerly puppydogs behind Falconi for inspiration and notes. As the intensity of the film ratchets up, the conflict between these two “styles” of filmmaking is ripe for comedy.
Not all of the jokes land. There are some wincey moments where it seems Bunce plays a second role as an old lady which works sometimes and other times not so much. The film also doesn’t really have an ending that matches the level of craziness it reaches midway through, leaving things to end with more of a plop than a smash. Still, I laughed quite a bit at KILLER WHALES which was put together by some high class comic talent with a very dark sense of humor.