Friday Night Frights: ’68 Kill’

Although not strictly a horror film, 68 Kill most definitely links into the darker side of films, and whilst a portion of the movie occurs overnight, its sunny Southern setting make it a perfect pick for today’s summer-set Friday Night Fright. I caught the film first at Fantasia, and then again at FrightFest, and loved every second. My original review follows below.

Hollywood and society is obsessed with fitting everything, including movies, into boxes. This sadly means that if a film doesn’t easily slot into one of those boxes, most distributors / studios pass on it. Thankfully though there are occasionally people out there that take the risk on what is different and our reward is films such as 68 Kill. The film is comprised with elements of thriller, black comedy, road movie, action, horror, crime and romance stitched together, the result a break-neck pace, insane thrill ride. It might not fit into a neat little box, but it will entertain and enthral all who watch it.

Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds) stars as 68 Kill‘s hapless hero, Chip. Chip is a blue collar worker, spending his day toiling at work whilst thinking about how he can improve the lifestyle situation for both himself and his girlfriend Liza (AnnaLynne McCord – 90210). Liza generates her income via her sugar daddy, a sticking point in her relationship with Chip. After learning that her sugar daddy has come into a large amount of cash, Liza convinces Chip to help her steal the money and what follows is a crazy series of events that spiral out of control. Chip is in for the wildest and worst night of his life.

68 Kill is a psychedelic and insane whistle-stop tour through America’s secret seedy side. The main cast of characters include prostitutes, strippers, drug dealers and fetish killers. Similar to True Romance, almost every character is tied to the darker, more criminal, side of life – there aren’t really any good guys here – and that’s okay.

Gubler is great as our protagonist, the audience feeling increasingly more sympathy for him as his world unravels. Chip goes on quite the journey – he starts as a mouse of a man, fully under the control of the crazy and manipulative Liza, before slowly pulling away from her and standing on his own two feet.

As great as Gubler’s performance is, 68 Kill belongs to the ladies. The whole film is brimming with feisty females, none of whom would look out of place at a Riot Grrrl gathering. These women are the epitome of the punk-rock attitude. Poor Chip does not stand a chance when faced with such strong and intelligent vixens. AnnaLynne McCord is brilliant as Liza whom is completely unhinged, but McCord manages to reign in the batsh*t just enough to stop it from going too far. McCord has come a long way from her days on TV show 90210, both Trash Fire and Excision have given her a chance to explore the darkness, but here her character lives and relishes in it.

Matching McCord is 13 Reasons Why‘s star Alisha Boe. Boe plays Violet, a young woman who finds herself accidentally caught up in Liza and Chip’s heist. Whilst Liza brings the all-consuming dangerous and infatuation side of love, lust and desire, Violet offers a more subdued and emotionally stable viewpoint. Chip finds himself drawn to Violet, despite his relationship with Liza and there are some really touching scenes between the pairing.

For anyone who saw and loved Cheap Thrills, this is the film for you. 68 Kill has been written and directed by Trent Haaga, the writer of Cheap Thrills, and in many ways feels like it could exist within the same universe. We all know how much studios love a cinematic universe these days. Tonally, the two are similar, though this one definitely turns all the dials up to full.

Taking place over one wild night, 68 Kill goes full throttle from the beginning, the film flying by in the blink of a blood-soaked, drug-crazed eye. It’s like True Romance and Freeway went partying with The Devil’s Rejects, during the siege in Green Room. 100% pure adrenaline, 68 Kill offers thrills, chills and inventive kills by the boot-load.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This review first appeared on THN. 68 Kill is available on Digital and DVD now.