Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Chucky, Pinhead, Michael Myers, and…Marcus Miller? Matt Farnsworth’s slasher film THE ORPHAN KILLER attempts to bring a new face to the cadre of killers that we watch between our fingers, and comes very close to succeeding. The legend of Marcus Miller is simple. A home invasion as a child leaves Marcus and his sister Audrey orphaned and sent to live at a religious orphanage. Marcus is driven to kill another child to protect his sister and is brutally punished by the nuns. He is whipped and tortured, made to wear a horrible mask that will become his trademark throughout the rest of the film. Years later he comes back to find his sister and what follows is a bloodbath set to heavy metal.
THE ORPHAN KILLER succeeds at creating a new horror icon with Marcus Miller. His sister could give Laurie Strode a run for her money too. The film does a lot of things right. The pacing is tight and the story is solid. The acting isn’t even half bad, and the performances by Diane Foster and David Backus really have a classic horror feel to them. It’s obvious Farnsworth is a fan of the slasher genre and knows the tropes to highlight, and those to stay away from. The film delivers on the promise of blood, guts, tits, and ass. Pretty standard fare for the genre. The story of the Miller’s is what will really cement this as a possible franchise like the gore lords before them.
The things that THE ORPHAN KILLER misses on however, really take you out of the film. The first act in particular is especially susceptible to these things. There are some beautifully shot and colored aerial shots at the beginning of the film inter-cut with dim, mis-colored, and shaky camera shots. The gore ranges from Troma-esque fake to really brutally realistic. Basically, when the film is good it’s really good, but when it’s bad it’s not even laughable, just amateurish. I’m unable to distinguish if the issues with the practical blood effects and murders are a result of something budgetary, or just a lack of consistency on the director’s behalf. Given the quality of the last two-thirds of the film, it’s really weird that the beginning would be so uneven. The last bit of note is the soundtrack. While overall the heavy metal soundtrack is refreshing and fitting of a film like this, the soundtrack occasionally feels layered-on and seems to overpower the scene it’s featured in. A little more care with the sound mix would fix this. The dialogue and the rest of the audio is just fine though (more credit should be given considering that Marcus Miller delivers distinguishable dialogue through a full mask the entire film, something they couldn’t get right with another recent villain in a Hollywood blockbuster film).
The director keeps the ending open for a sequel, and has a really good proof-of-concept for a larger budget story to be made with a studio, or perhaps even crowdfunded with help from the fans of the first film. Matt Farnsworth definitely has something with THE ORPHAN KILLER, what that is, time will tell. If you’re a fan of gory slasher horror with an interesting new villain, this film is definitely worth a look.
THE ORPHAN KILLER Review
The Orphan Killer is a tour de force murder flick that defies classification. It goes far beyond current trends in gore and breaks open a new suffering genre of horror. Marcus Miller is a serial murderer hellbent on teaching his estranged sister Audrey what it means to have family loyalty. His lessons are taught in massive doses of vulgar and unimaginable pain. Throughout her brutal torture we learn that Marcus is not the only Miller with Killer in the bloodline as Audrey proves to be a formidable adversary.