Serial Kaller

| January 28, 2016

Before Serial Kaller even starts, it helpfully gives viewers a warning. The logo for Loaded Film, one of the production companies who made the film, includes the slogan “for men who should know better.” If you feel like that applies to you, heed the warning: you should know better than to sit through another low-budget slasher. Maybe you were lured in by the fact that the film stars cult film legend Debbie Rochon. Maybe it was the promise of titillating content. Or maybe the British accents in the trailer convinced you that Serial Kaller would be more than just another slasher movie. But you should know better. Especially if you’ve already seen Trevor Matthews’s GirlHouse, of which Serial Kaller feels like a much less interesting replica.

BabealiciousTV is a hybrid web video and sex chat line, an operation run out of an abandoned former film studio with some camcorders, computers, and minimal “bedroom” sets. It’s run by “producer” Jack (Stuart Brennan), who spends most of his time either yelling at people or masturbating in his office over vandalized pictures of his female employees. This is showbiz, sort of, so naturally there’s plenty of drama between the ladies behind the scenes. Tonya (co-writer Dani Thompson) brings her little dog Tiffany to work with her, which rankles Lucy (Suzi Lorraine). Lucy and her girlfriend Frankie (Jessica Ann Brownlie) work in a separate studio from the others and already don’t get along with them. Claudia (Lucinda Rhodes) is the daughter of a rock star who just took the job to make money after he cut off her allowance, and she and Tonya cruelly tell club waitress Stephanie (Debbie Rochon) that she should audition for a part at Babealicious with Jack, knowing he’ll reject her because the “cougar look isn’t really in right now.” Thankfully, somebody starts killing all these awful people.

As mentioned previously, one of the most glaring problems with Serial Kaller is its uncomfortable resemblance to GirlHouse. That film follows a young college student who takes a job living in a house with a bunch of other cam girls, and a stalker manages to track down its location and find them. Serial Kaller is more of a “murder mystery,” though, with its killer’s identity not revealed until the finale. Where Serial Kaller really comes up short is in its characters: there is absolutely no one in this film for the audience to identify with. Except Rochon’s character, they’re virtually all mean, vapid, self-centered monsters. This is a common miscalculation among independent horror films, and it’s honestly sort of infuriating to see yet another example of it. Since the vast majority of the unsympathetic victims here are women, Serial Kaller comes across as exceptionally misogynistic, reaching a nadir in a scene in which a character is drowned in a dog’s water bowl. It’s just more ugly, horrible things happening to more ugly, horrible characters.

Getting into more of the most worrisome content in Serial Kaller would require spoiling the identity of its killer, although anyone paying attention to the movie is going to guess who it is very early on. Suffice to say standard-issue misogyny is not the only problematic tradition the movie inherited from the worst of its predecessors and seems more than happy to perpetuate. For a movie about people involved in sex work, Serial Kaller is oddly chaste, displaying tons of cleavage but only one topless woman during its entire run time. Even more odd and is what appears to be something that is supposed a sex scene between two characters who are more or less fully clothed. Anyone looking for titillation will probably be sorely disappointed, but there are certainly buckets of fake blood thrown around for the indiscriminate gore fan. There’s nothing here that horror fans haven’t seen countless times before, done considerably better very recently. In other words, there’s not really any compelling reason to give Serial Kaller any more of your time than you’ve already spent reading this review. If you didn’t know better, you should now.

Wild Eye Releasing released Serial Kaller on DVD on 26 January 2016. Special features include a commentary with director Dan Brownlie, outtakes, and trailers.

About the Author:

Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He is author of "The Unrepentant Cinephile," and a regular contributor to Daily Grindhouse and Film Monthly as well as a member of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. He is co-director of the Chicago Cinema Society and proud owner of 35mm prints of Andy Milligan's "Guru, the Mad Monk." Follow his long-form film writing on Medium: www.medium.com/@rabbitroom
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