Killing Ariel (2008)

Rating: B-

Dir: Fred Calvert and David J. Negron Jr.
Star: Michael Brainard, Axelle Gretel, Joseph Gatt, Lauren Mary Kim

Despite having seen his mother blow her brains out with a shotgun, Rick has grown up to be happily married – at least until his midlife crisis kicks in. It’s then that he buys a Porsche and heads off to his old family home for a weekend fling with Ariel (Gretel). Bad idea. The ghosts of his past come back with a vengeance, and he starts to see things and people that Ariel doesn’t, and things escalate until he ends up blasting his girlfriend with a shotgun. But she just won’t stay dead: or did Rick even kill her to begin with? I’d better stop with the synopsis at that point, as a good chunk of the film’s appeal could easily be spoiled by over-explanation of the plot. Let’s just say, it ends up becoming somewhat like Groundhog Day with a chainsaw, as Rick tries to work out what needs to be done to escape the apparently endless loop in which he finds himself.

It takes a little while to get going, setting things up with a little too much care and attention – more than is necessary, certainly. However, once it gets to the titular slaughter, things certainly get kicked up several notches, and the film is an enjoyable mind-bender. There’s a nice consistency of tone, in that you only see things from Rick’s point of view, which lends credibility to his bewilderment and confusion – it’s easy to see how he comes to the conclusions he does from the evidence as it appears to him, right or wrong though such conclusions might be. The film relies a lot on the performance of the two leads, Brainard in particular, and they’re generally up to the task. If the period setting is somewhat pointless, it’s a generally effective combination, sitting somewhere between psychological horror and a gore-fest.