Orphan Killer (Movie Review)

Joe R's rating: ★ ★ ½ Director: Matt Farnsworth | Release Date: 2011

There are a lot of low-budget horror movies that are light on plot and character development, but few take it to such extremes as 2011’s “Orphan Killer.” This movie doesn’t let silly little things like story get in its way. There’s just a masked killer, some dark corridors, and a hot chick on the run. More than anything, it’s a throwback to early eighties slasher movies with a little “Saw” thrown in for good measure.

Don’t believe me about no plot here? Try this out—a masked killer named Marcus (played by David Backus) escapes from an asylum, tracks down his long-lost sister Audrey (played by Diane Foster), kidnaps and tortures her, and she tries to escape. Yeah, that’s about it. Along the way we get a tiny amount of backstory (their parents were killed, they were placed into an orphanage, she was adopted, he wasn’t, and so on).

Don’t get me wrong, the fact that “Orphan Killer” is so light on plot isn’t necessarily a complaint. In a way, it’s refreshing to see a movie that doesn’t try to throw in too much story, too many characters, or try to make some grand statement. A lot of very good ideas were turned into bad movies because directors and writers didn’t know when to stop. “Orphan Killer” doesn’t pretend to be anything more than a cheap, bloody horror movie, and I appreciated its simplicity.

But can I recommend it? For about the first two-thirds of “Orphan Killer,” when the killer tracks down his sister, it’s an interesting ride. Foster gives a good performance even though her only job seems to be showering naked, then running and screaming. Most of the other actors aren’t all that good but Farnsworth doesn’t give them much to do so they don’t get in the way. Some of the initial kills were cool in a “we spent all our budget on buckets of blood” way.

But then the killer catches his sister, and “Orphan Killer” decides to go the torture-porn route, as Marcus strings Audrey up and proceeds to punish her. Much of the torture is painful to watch, sure, but my real complaint with it is that it just draws the movie length out—there really didn’t seem to be any other reason for it. If the killer really wanted to kill his sister he should have just done it. Even more painful, however, was Farnsworth’s decision to have the killer speak. Killers like Jason and Michael Meyers were more frightening because they were silent, but Farnsworth appears to have missed that lesson. Having his Marcus ramble off religious diatribes as he tortures Audrey isn’t frightening, it’s laughable. Finally, the constant drone of thrash-metal that Farsnworth chooses to use as his soundtrack gets old fast.

In the end, “Orphan Killer” warrants a solid “meh.” Not great by any means, but if you want a gore-filled slasher pic with some gratuitous nudity and a pretty cool-looking serial killer, and you know there is almost no story, you could do much worse.

Joe R


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