"The Alphabet Killer" Hits too close to home
Let me start off by saying that life in Rochester, NY does not afford one many opportunities to attend an exclusive ANYTHING, aside from the occasional awesome opening at the George Eastman House. Needless to say, I was very interested to check out a pre-release screening of "The Alphabet Killer," a horror drama based on a series of real unsolved murders that occurred in Rochester, NY during the 1970's, at a local theater in Pittsford, a Rochester-area suburb.
I was a bit dismayed upon arriving to find out that my camera battery had died, but as it turned out, there wasn't much to take pictures of. The "stars" of the film, aka the director, writer, producer(?), and the actresses that played the three dead girls were all ushered in on a hybrid limo/shortbus, which I've actually ridden in before. They crossed over the "red carpet," which consequently is the same red carpet that is always there, but now blocked off by velvet ropes. I got there early enough to lurk in the lobby and watch these "stars" be interviewed by overly excited local news anchors, where I snapped the above iPhone picture, and moved on to the theater.
The first seat that I sat in just happened to be in one of the (poorly marked) "VIP rows" that took up half of the theater. I'm pretty sure that I only saw 10 people out of the limo, but I digress. I moved up a bit, and sat among the common folk for the entirety of the film with little incident save for the irritating stage-mom applause during the opening credits. As you'll find out when my review goes up, I wasn't all that impressed with what I saw. Fighting the urge to leave the second the credits rolled, I was urged by Eric to stick around for the director Q&A. This, my friends, is where things got interesting.
This particular Q&A sesh started innocently enough.
Of course, someone asked these three 13 year old girls if they have acting aspirations. Of course, they all do. Of course, a painfully awkward mid-pubescent boy struggled to blurt out an awkward inquiry about when the film was shot. Of course, it didn't matter to anyone. As my ass began to twitch in my seat, the mic was passed to a woman in the VIP section that claimed to be alive during the time of the murders, and OF COURSE, she had matching initials. Now, I found it hard to separate fact from fiction here, especially when claimed she was threateningly teased during the times of the real murders because of her unfortunately chosen initials, but I'll be damned if I wasn't paying attention now.
Finally, the moment I had been waiting for. The last inquiry came from a woman who was apparently a friend of one of the original murder victims. Practically in tears, she questioned the cast and crew as to why they played a credit about the most recent developments about the case but did not have a credit thanking the friends and the family of the victims for their support or even acknowledging their suffering. The room sank. One of our users noted earlier in the week that it may have been a bit insensitive to "premier" this film in the area in which the real murders took place. An interesting thought, no doubt, but I didn't feel it to be particularly true until that moment, and it left me with a bit of a knot in my throat. It made me wonder about all of the "based on a true story," films and TV shows that I've seen throughout my life, and how close each one was to the story that it was based on. Even when you see the family and friends of victims on TV specials, its really hard to feel the tragedy in any sort of lasting way. Unfortunately, that was not the case here. I was floored.
After watching the film and hearing the Q&A , I was almost mad at the people involved with "The Alphabet Killer" for using only convenient plot points from real-life unsolved murders, especially when we're only a few decades removed from the tragedy. It also served as a reminder of why I like my horror fantastical, because when you step into this sensitive of a territory, it's very hard to walk away unscathed, especially if the film does no justice to the atrocities its based on and the people that were affected.
Overall, tonight was both hilariously low-rent and markedly grave, a dichotomy that somehow represents the awkwardness of "The Alphabet Killer" perfectly.