Sometimes the serial killer genre can feel like a dime a dozen. But once in awhile, something like the Mo Brothers’ (Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto) Killers finds a way to break free of the mold. Premiering at Sundance last year, it was one of two I missed during that festival — the other being The Babadook. In a year filled with fantastic films, I knew I had to see this one being a fan of thrillers in general, particularly when it comes to Asian cinema. Better late than never, I’m relieved to say Killers exceeded expectations and is finally available on Blu-ray from Well Go USA on April 7.
Our titular Killers are Japanese Nomura (Kazuki Kitamura) and Indonesian Bayu (Oka Antara). Nomura is already in the killing game, taking young women back to his place for a night of ecstasy, followed by their eventual demise. Bayu is a journalist on the prowl of the wife-beating Dharma (Ray Sahetapy), dealing with his own estranged wife Dina (Luna Maya) and daughter Elly (Ersya Aurelia). Nomura has been recording his kills and putting them online, something Bayu is fascinated by and can’t stop watching. Eventually, Bayu winds up killing a couple of people who are trying to mug him and begins his own descent into madness, with Nomura beginning to question his own motives and possibly developing a conscience after he takes a liking to florist Hisae (Rin Takanashi) and her son (Dimas Argobie).
Killers doesn’t make for the most “killer” transfer, but when it looks good, it looks really good. Shot digitally, and presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the best part of the picture is definitely the amount of detail on display. The Red Epic cameras keep everything visible, helping the film be extra creepy at times, but sometimes lending a falseness to the CGI-enhanced elements. If there’s any drawback to the image, it’s the alternating of black levels from nice and inky to light grey, usually within the same scene. A faint layering of noise creeps into a few shots, and banding pops up thanks to the film being slapped onto a 25GB disc.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio also keeps the film’s pace booming along with plenty of low-thumping bass. Surrounds kick in during the kill scenes, while sound effects add extra squeamishness with breaking bones and sizzling skin sounding extra gross. Dialogue is perfectly clear with English subtitles available. A 2.0 Dolby Digital track is included. There are no special features.
If I had to describe Killers, imagine American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman being transplanted into The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Kitamura makes for an almost endearing psycho while Antara starts off his Bayu as a journalist with integrity, while slowly devolving into the other half of our titular Killers. The Mo Brothers keep the pace moving along and even manage to pull of an ending that makes sense — something that’s been missing from this year’s horror/thrillers. While featuring a better-than-average transfer, it is sorely lacking considering there are absolutely zero special features. It’s a good thing the film itself lived up to expectations, making Killers totally worth the wait and a recommended release for those who can stomach it.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00SJ9UBZI]