Scars of Xavier, recently acquired for Worldwide Distribution by genre specialists Devilworks, premiered at this year’s European Film Market and is the latest entry in the now-familiar serial killer genre.
Familiarity is very much mixed in with the graphic gore on show here, as Scars of Xavier treads similar ground to the likes of David Fincher’s Se7en, both versions of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the Elijah Wood Maniac remake and the classic 1986 benchmark Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, which explores this type of subject matter better than any other film we can recall to a far more disturbingly powerful pay-off and remains the definitive analysis of a twisted mind.
That’s not to say Scars of Xavier doesn’t have the potential to reach the core audience who have been so ingrained in their psyche with the examples above alongside the likes of Silence of the Lambs and Zodiac and it is generating significant buzz amongst the horror festivals with an award from the Nightmare Film Festival for Best Thriller.
Marc Engel, who co-produced the film with writer-director Kai E. Bogatzki, stars as the Xavier of the title, a man who works in a mundane job as a car wash, but then transforms at night into a vicious, uncompromising serial killer with vulnerable young women on his radar. He clearly is missing a thought or two and takes pride in putting a collage of pictures of his victims for reflection on his home wall. It is obvious that he is looking for more entries and reflection…
The film certainly whets the appetite at the outset when Xavier dispenses with a group of armed police officers in body armour in a Raid-style sequence and there seemed to be potential in a suspenseful cat-and-mouse game with the police, but before long the film disappointingly taps back into the well-used style of the examples mentioned, without focusing much on the motivation or backstory, which backdates here to Psycho and Don’t Go In The House as a prime motive for Xavier’s acts of degradation.
The film does score highly with the graphic gore and make-up, which is up there with the best of Tom Savini’s work in the Friday The 13th films and Joseph Zito’s The Prowler (aka Rosemary’s Killer in the UK), but it doesn’t disguise the fact that the film hasn’t added anything to the debate of what a serial killer can do or why they do what they do.
This is the key problem with Scars of Xavier. The film-makers do have a talent for this type of genre thriller and it is a shame that they didn’t expand on some of the psychological ideas and concepts that would have elevated this film to the classic status of a Se7en or Henry.
SCARS OF XAVIER / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: KAI E. BOGATZKI / STARRING: ISABELLE ARING, MARC ENGEL, FRANK FREITAG, JELLY FRANCIS GAVIRIA / RELEASE DATE: TBC