Review: The Orphan Killer (Unrated) / Director: Matt Farnsworth / Screenplay: Matt Farnsworth / Starring: Diane Foster, David Backus, Matt Farnsworth, James McCaffrey, John Savage, Karen Young / Release date: Out Now (via iTunes)
With the advent of cheaper duplication and a DIY distribution infrastructure already in place in the shape of the internet, more and more film makers are selling and streaming their films online and completely cutting out the normal market of big labels and stores. There are some gems that can be found this way, and I'm always on the lookout for new talent.
The Orphan Killer is one such film, written and directed by Matt Farnsworth and promoted initially via viral videos and Facebook pages, it tells the story of a brother and sister, Audrey and Marcus Miller who were orphaned at a young age after a standard home invasion turned into a blood bath.
Sent away to a strict Catholic orphanage, they are separated when Marcus finds it hard to cope with his inner demons and begins lashing out violently. The only discipline the nuns running the place know of course is to beat him, lock him away in the attic and make him wear a creepy mask all the time so that the other kids will fear him and not get close enough to be hurt. So, nothing that would cause him any permanent damage then, especially since he's just seen his mum and dad slaughtered?
Audrey (Diane Foster) is adopted, and moves away, to grow up to be a normal member of society, even if she does go to church dressed like a prostitute. Marcus (David Backus), on the other hand still has an axe to grind – and by now it's gotten quite sharp. Still wearing the same mask (I can only assume he has loosened the fittings slightly since he was younger) he sets about finding his sister and hacking, slashing, pummelling and chopping anyone who he happens to come across along the way.
The problem with the film is that there is very little to take in other than blood and guts, and that seems to be where the film is gaining lots of plaudits, it has won awards at all sorts of festivals, and from lots of horror websites. The gore on show – and there is a hell of a lot of it – is, on the whole, superb and the practical effects outshine many of the bigger budget films that hit the shelves. It's just a shame that it's at the expense of a better flowing story and more natural acting. Having said that, I've seen a lot worse and both Foster and Backus are watchable and veteran actor John Savage adds some gravitas in a small role as a detective.
The biggest flaw with the film for me is the over powering metal soundtrack. Now, I am a “metal head” myself, but it does not do the film any favours and I found it quite distracting most of the time and completely takes you out of the horror you're seeing on screen.
Reading the hype surrounding the film on their Facebook page and the official website, Farnsworth really sees his creation as a successor to Jason or Michael Myers, and given a little more time on the story and a stronger supporting cast there may be scope for the character to develop as there is potential with his ideas.
All that said, it isn't a badly made film, and if it's a slasher film you want that doesn't pull punches, you can do much worse.
You can buy the DVD and Blu-ray from the official website, where you can also stream the film for 72 hours for only $1.99, which is approximately £1.30, (payable by Paypal). For that price you really don't have any excuse not to give it a go if gore's your thing.