Film Review: 68 Kill (2017)

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Pulp crime novels haven’t been particularly kind to women over the years. But director Trent Haaga’s gloriously violent adaptation of Bryan Smith’s novel looks to mix things up quite considerably.

For one thing, it’s powered by not just one but three badass females, each with wildly differing moral compasses. Not to mention a totally killer genre-driven narrative that rockets forward right from the word go, without even so much as a hint of stopping.

In the middle of it all is Matthew Gray Gubler’s sad-sack Chip, a penniless labourer who finds himself roped into a messy heist plot by his dodgy, domineering girlfriend Liza (Excision’s AnnaLynne McCord in the performance of her career). But when things expectedly go awry, Chip finds himself running from a hail of blood and bullets, with Alisha Boe’s mysterious Violet by his side, and a horde of hillbilly gangsters (lead by a deliciously goth-ed up Sheila Vand) hot on his tail.

To the uninitiated, it’s all a pulpy mess. Haaga’s scripting has his characters flittering between standard crime caper fare and Hostel-style bloodletting without so much as a second’s forewarning. With little more than the gentle turn of a steering wheel, 68 Kill thunders between genres, characters and even motivations, leaving any and every shade of the colour beige completely in its dust; it is, quite possibly, the very definition of a totally wild ride. And while it’s clear its abrasive story cuts and serious tonal shifts are likely to upset the minds of the many, those who really strap in for 68 Kill are guaranteed an absolute ball.

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The proof really is in Haaga’s characters here too; loser anti-hero Chip might be treated to the biggest of the overall arcs (an odd blend of serious violence and huge belly-laughs that Gubler 100% nails), but its really his trio of wild-eyed women that end up running away with the movie.

McCord’s 21st-century femme fatale is the unquestionable queen of the film’s first half, but as Boe and eventually Vand soon hijack the narrative for their own ends, each proves not only a totally powerful, but also viciously entertaining force. It’s rare to see this much personality and unending drive behind what is essentially a caper gone wrong, but there’s such a clash of worlds and personalities here that Haaga keeps the tension strong and the dialogue thrilling, right the way through to the very last frame.

As nasty and full-on unhinged as it is consistently hilarious, 68 Kill is a total adrenaline shot of a movie. Like Tarantino on crack, it’s a trailer-trash neo-noir, soaked in ultra-violence and delivered straight to the bloodstream in one long, sensationally satisfying pump; a total crowd-pleasing delight.

68 Kill was screened as part of Horror Channel FrightFest 2017.

Originally published on HeyUGuys.

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