Director – Chris Moore
Cast – Ryanne Duzich, Teddy Dunn, Daniel Franzese, Agnes Bruckner, Patrick John Flueger, Steffi Wickens, Theo Rossi, Taryn Manning, Don McManus, Kevin Gage
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
After enjoying the initial After Dark “Horrorfest” I have passed over the majority of these films due to most of them just being decent at best, with the rest being just downright bad. Kill Theory intrigued me though thanks to what sounded like an engaging story despite sounding like a Saw ripoff, and sure enough the horror provided in this film was enjoyable and executed well. Better than the average After Dark flick, Kill Theory is one of the better entries they have given us and provided me with an experience I did not regret.
After spending time in a mental institution for sacrificing his friends in order to save himself during a rock climbing expedition this killer, convicted of manslaughter, is granted release from the institution after showing the required progress. When a group of college friends celebrating the end of their semester head out to a lake house to spend the weekend boozing and boating they find themselves involved in a deadly game in which the killer forces them to kill each other in order to survive, a situation he found himself in and one that cost him dearly.
I really enjoy horror films that pit their characters against each other and force them into dire situations that they never expected to find themselves in. Things start off as they usually do, with slight background on the killer and then focusing on our boozing friends looking to have one last weekend of college partying before parting their separate ways. It does not take long before the carnage kicks in and they are subjected to the cruel and very well-planned game put on by our killer (who is never named) in which they must pretty much sacrifice one person every so often until only one of them is left and will be allowed to leave with their life. This was pretty well-written by first-time writer Kelly C. Palmer as much tension was thrown in resulting from the game being played, and as expected social breakdown occurs between the friends as they desperately try to survive. It was awesome watching them try and be sensible about the situation and make sure that everyone makes it out alive, but when they realize that the killer planned out every detail and will always be several steps ahead of them they are then forced to turn on each other as desperation and fear of a gruesome death kicks in. Despite all of these cool antics there are a few faults here and there that held the film back, which consisted of some mediocre dialogue at times and a killer that I wished was used more. There are sections of the film where the killer is gone for way too long, and while I did not really see this as a negative I am sure there will be some that balk at the killer never being identified for us.
Longtime producer Chris Moore did a fairly good job directing this piece, giving us good execution of what mattered most, the horror. The tension feels real and his execution of the actors sold the confusion and fear they were feeling, and thankfully his execution of the killer (voiced by genre vet Kevin Gage; Laid to Rest, Lightning Bug, Amusement) was sweet as well even though we never actually see his face. We are given some good kill sequences that brought on a fair amount of gore, and Moore’s usage of full-frontal execution made them memorable and pretty damn enjoyable. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and solemn sets used in this piece, and Moore made the most of them by employing every hiding spot and dark corner to his advantage. As far as directing faults go some of the acting performances from our protagonists could have been better, but I felt that was typical of these lesser After Dark films and did not find them so poor that they ruined this experience.
Overall, Kill Theory is a better-than-average Horrorfest film that gives us a cool storyline which brings forth much tension and engaging material. The execution is good and the horror provided is enjoyable, and aside from a few faults here and there this was an enjoyable watch that shows After Dark still has potential – although “how much” is to be determined.