Director: Kimo Stamboel, Timo Tjahjanto
Writer: Takuji Ushiyama, Timo Tjahjanto
Cast: Oka Antara, Kazuki Kitamura, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy, Epy Kusnandar
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
[Reviews by cornholio and Maynard Morrissey.]
In Tokyo serial killer Nomura (Kazuki Kitamura) films the killings of his victims and puts them online. One of his watchers is Bayu (Oka Antara), an Indonesian reporter. He has been working to expose the crimes of the powerful Dharma (Ray Sahetapy), but only unsuccessfully so far. When Bayu is robbed and raped, he ends up killing his attackers and on an impulse he films the scene and puts it online, too. Nomura finds him and is convinced that he has found a kindred spirit. He starts egging Bayu on to commit more murders.
Killers has an interesting idea and for the bigger part of the film, they develop that idea beautifully. Towards the end, though, it gets a little too predictable. Up until that, though, it is really engaging.
With the setup of the story, Killers not only examines the media culture, where everybody films everything and puts it online, but also questions the usual reaction of “well somebody who does that most be totally evil and barely human at all”. Instead it shows that even “normal” people can be pushed to do horrible things, that this kind of potential lives in all of us – and it can quickly spiral out of control. Plus, there is the question of morality: is killing because you’re an insane psychopath really so different from killing because you’re on a mission of revenge? In the end where is the difference?
Those are not necessarily the newest of questions but it doesn’t hurt to look at them, especially not in the form of an engaging and enjoyable film, even though the ending, especially the last 20 minutes, where completely predictable. So predictable, in fact, that it was barely necessary to see them.
But up until then the movie worked very well. The violence was set in scene very well and contrary to many other films, it isn’t slick at all, especially not when it comes to Bayu’s scenes. It is messy, people fight back, the killers aren’t in perfect control all the time, they get hit. I think that it’s more realistic that way and I liked that. Especially Bayu’s getaway from the hotel and the robbery and rape in the car were great because they also made perfect use of the cramped surroundings.
The cast was really good, too. Kazuki Kitamura has the American Psycho-vibe down pat and it’s amazingly creepy to watch, especially when combined with Nomura’s search for a human connection. And (the almost absurdly gorgeous) Oka Antara has no problems at all showing Bayu’s inner conflict, whether it’s before, after or even during his violent outbreaks. The clash of these two characters is the heart of the film and it works without any problem at all.
Nevertheless Killers doesn’t quite rise to the heights it could have achieved. There are lengths here and there and since the ending is the weakest part of the film, that weakness is what stays with you when the credits start rolling and less the many good scenes that came before.