DVD Review: KILLERS (2014)

Lobby card for KILLERS (2014)

Coming off its brief run in North American movie theaters, crime thriller KILLERS (2014) dropped April 7 of this year on DVD via Well Go USA Entertainment, which also managed the U.S. theatrical release. Frisco Kid managed to grab a copy via Netflix shortly after the release. From the producers of THE RAID (2011), this film — which premiered at Sundance in 2014 — is an intense, gruesome ride through the minds of a sadistic, Tokyo-based serial killer and his more principled copycat in Jakarta.

Although less action-packed than THE RAID, it packs a lot of tense, fast-paced story into its 138 minutes of run-time. Directed by the “Mo Brothers” (Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto), KILLERS stars Kazuki Kitamura, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy, and Ersya Aurelia. The dialogue is in English, Indonesian, and Japanese, with subtitles available in English.

KILLERS Story Summary

Nomura (Kitamura) is a wealthy young man who has returned from the U.S. to Japan after losing his job. He now pursues videography as a hobby. However, the videos he makes are of young women that he lures back to his home outside of Tokyo for sex. He then makes videos of himself torturing and murdering them. He uploads the videos to the Internet, where they are seen by Bayu (Antara), a disgraced journalist in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Bayu is fascinated by Nomura’s videos. Soon afterward, he kills two men who kidnap and rob him and then threaten to find and rape his daughter Elly (Aurelia). He feels a rush from killing. He records a video of the dead muggers and uploads it to the same video-sharing site that Nomura uses. Nomura notices the video, establishes contact with Bayu over the Internet, and creepily starts to mentor Bayu as a serial killer.

Nomura uses Bayu’s rage at Dharma (Sahetapy), a corrupt, powerful, and wealthy Jakarta businessman who ruined Bayu’s journalism career, to prod him into killing again. The killers continue to communicate in cyberspace, but their relationship becomes increasingly complicated because they have very different motivations for killing. Their paths eventually cross in real life, resulting in a bloody final confrontation between teacher and student.

KILLERS Commentary

This film dives right into its premise from the start. After a steamy bedroom scene, Nomura tortures and kills his sex partner while wearing a mask. He fancies himself a sort of filmmaker, having built a small studio in his home where he stages his torture-murders. As his victim dies, he murmurs, “And . . . cut.”

This line will come back to haunt Nomura at the end of the film. While his motivation for killing is not clear at the beginning, it comes out in bits and pieces eventually. Through his relationship with Hisae (Takanashi) and her young, autistic brother, it becomes clear that there is something in his past involving his sister and the rest of his family that drives him to kill.

Bayu’s motivation is much clearer. Dharma’s retaliation for Bayu’s investigative reports on him destroyed Bayu’s life. Besides his career, his relationships with his wife, Dina (Maya), and his daughter were fatally injured. Bayu wants revenge, but Nomura has a darker, almost psychotic motive.

The visuals in this movie are very effective, particularly during the scene in which Bayu struggles with the men who have kidnapped him. The choices made for the film’s musical score are clever; well-known classical music lends an irony to scenes involving Nomura. This irony is made overt when the same music plays over the closing credits, but in a distorted version.

Even though it is not a horror film, KILLERS will please several subgroups of horror fans. Grueheads will get their fill of sadistic, bloody torture and killing, which is quite realistic. Those with a more psychological interest in horror will enjoy following the interaction between the two killers and finding out what it is that draws them together. The dialogue is well-written, clearly exposing the psychology of the two men. Finally, J-Horror fans will want to see what the Mo Brothers do with the genre.

There is a larger theme to this movie. It has to do with the tagline in the poster above. Watch this film to see how sadistic killers reproduce themselves, even at the moment of their own deaths. It is available on DVD via Netflix in the US and worldwide on several VOD platforms.