What is it about horror movies that makes them one of most popular genres of zero-budget, indie films to make? Is it because gore fanatics will watch anything? Because horror aficionados are the only ones with the tenacity to make their own film? Whatever the reason, add Baseline Killer to the unspectacular mix.
Based on a string of murders that took place along Baseline Road in Phoenix, Arizona in 2004, Baseline Killer focuses on a group of old high school friends reuniting to celebrate the opening of one girl’s furniture store… on said Baseline Rd. A pair of killers break in to the story -– presumably the Baseline murderers -– and terrorize the girls. The film opens with a docu-style explanation of the events, but interestingly makes a point to say that the real Baseline Killer worked alone, even though in the film they're a pair.
Rather than film a finale, the movie is wrapped up with an exceedingly long post-script with burial dates for three of the dead girls (despite the fact that there were half-dozen or so girls in the film). While not much information on the outcome is offered, but the post-script does give my favorite moment of the entire, boring affair: a glaring misspelling ("vage" instead of "vague").
Describe the movie in a word? Bad. This movie is bad. Let’s forget the boring story, the weak attempt at "backstory" for characters I didn't care about, and the tediously slow pacing. Let’s forget the bad acting, which is actually enjoyably bad (more so because at least two of the girls are, for an unknown reason, wearing obvious wigs). Let’s forget about the idiot girls who don’t think to call the police on one of their many cell phones or even try to leave via the obviously accessible doors. Instead, let’s just talk about the technical aspects of this film.
The shooting is obnoxious – it is all handheld and all deliberately shaky. I could have lived with that, but when combined with incompetent editing, it is too much to take. The director and editor appear to have been going for a fast, slick, stylized, MTV-esque look, but the result is just sloppy. Snap cuts in the middle of a scene – plain dialogue scenes, no less – lay waste to the proscenium arch, make no sense, and are sometimes just a mirror image of the previous shot. Many of the cuts are even made in the middle of a sentence. Between the insane cutting and the overload on ramp shots, I got dizzy and nauseated and nearly threw up.
The echoing audio throughout the film indicates it was all recorded with a shotgun mike, and takes the viewer out of whatever experience there is to be had. All the death scenes are shot in darkness, so all one sees is a body drenched in blood, there aren't even any further makeup effects used. When not shooting in the dark, the film uses natural light almost exclusively — not a good choice for a night shoot.
There are no special features on the disc, unless you count “widescreen presentation,” “2.0 stereo audio,” and a “stills gallery” as special features. The filmmaker does; I do not.