68 KILL (2017)
Chip (Matthew Gray Gubler) makes a meager living draining septic tanks. His crazy, abusive girlfriend Liza (AnnaLynne McCord) is a hooker who has hatched a plan to get them out of squalor quick. She wants to rob her sugar daddy Ken (David Maldonado) of the $68,000 in cash from his safe. She promises the meek Chip that no one will get hurt. Two dead bodies and a hostage (Alisha Boe) in the trunk later, Chip has had enough and double crosses Liza and takes off with her car, the hostage and the cash. But Chip is not about to escape the current situation unscathed, as his path to freedom is blocked by all sorts of unsavory characters, not to mention a furious Liza in hot pursuit.
This sleazy grind house style flick from writer/director Trent Haaga starts out fun mostly due to a delightfully over-the-top AnnaLynne McCord. Where it falters and loses it’s grip somewhat is having McCord’s Liza disappear for most of the second half of the movie as Chip falls for pretty hostage Violet (Boe) and then encounters a group of trailer trash sleazebags who want his money and his life. The story then loses that grimy fun as Chip becomes a hostage himself and is brutalized by this group and the film starts to wallow in the sleaze and viciousness a bit too much for it’s own good. Also, getting back to Violet…SPOILERS…
why introduce a potential romance between Violet and Chip, only to have her leave the story a few scenes later? Why have her character there at all, if the story isn’t going anywhere with their romance and Chip must face the trailer park group alone. It seems like filler and a waste of time, not to mention it happens way too quickly and her reason for being in Ken’s house is a bit convoluted to begin with…
…END SPOILERS. The film does pick-up when McCord catches up with Chip and finally reappears, but then it is over too quickly to really enjoy the character’s return. When Liza isn’t present the film becomes just another Quentin Tarantino grind house revival style flick which have been all too common since the Pulp Fiction director made them cool again. There is nothing to set it apart from others of it’s ilk.
Gubler makes a fine enough schlep of a hero. Chip’s meek and let’s Liza walk all over him and predictably he finally “grows a pair”…in Liza’s own words…by the film’s end. The character is not as interesting as his psycho girlfriend and the film loses something when Chip takes center stage and Gubler has little more to do than look like he’s in over his head. As Liza, AnnaLynne McCord is a stick of bad girl dynamite and is having a blast of a good time chewing up the scenery and the men in it. She showed she had some real acting chops in Excision and here she is really lighting up the screen as sexy, trashy, crazy Liza. It’s her show and the film makes a big mistake keeping her off screen for most of the second half…a BIG mistake. Alisha Boe is pretty and sexy as hostage Violet, but the character doesn’t amount to much and there seems to be no point to her even being there once the story changes gears after she and Chip hook up.
Overall, there was some fun to be had here, but mostly when star AnnaLynne McCord was onscreen tearing it up with her sexy, out-of-her-mind, bad girl Liza. When McCord’s character is absent, the fun fades and sadly filmmaker Haaga wallows a bit too much in the violence and trash of his story as it progresses. The flick only crackles when Liza is involved and it is a big mistake to have her absent for so long to pursue a romantic sub-plot that is discarded a few scenes later. Having his start with Troma Films, Haaga knows trash cinema, but he also needs to recognize when it’s a bit too much and when he’s messing up a good thing by letting the best part of the movie sit on the sidelines for far too long. Worth a look, but not the sleazy roller coaster ride it wants to be.