In case there’s any question about the motivation driving the would-be murderer at the center of Chance Has No Empathy, the title really says it all, or at least writer-director Gabriel Saint seems to think so. Throughout the film, Saint is at pains to differentiate between sociopathic and psychopathic behavior, stressing the film’s emphasis on the protagonist’s anti-social tendencies rather than specifically psychotic behavior. But watching a consistently tiresome character feebly struggle with violent impulses for 90-plus minutes holds limited appeal almost any way you look at it.
Chance (Will Rothhaar) is a serial killer, at least he thinks he is, or he wants to be, but he doesn’t yet actually have any kills to his credit. He’s working on cultivating the right attitude though, contemplating the emptiness of existence, misogynistically ridiculing his girlfriend Lily (Michelle Antoinette Roselle) and stalking random people in his Venice Beach neighborhood. Since he’s an artist who’s constantly sketching, he can always make the excuse that he’s looking for inspiration if his odd behavior attracts attention.
In fact though, he’s totally blocked, fixated on the same white canvas for weeks without a single creative spark. Instead, he’s obsessing nonstop over Charlie (Brooke Culbertson), one of his attractive young female models who’s a criminology student writing a thesis on sociopathic behavior. After locating her residence in Silverlake, he breaks in repeatedly using his lock-picking skills, going through her apartment and touching all her stuff. Soon his all-consuming emotions override any sense of reason and he begins lashing out in an attempt to fulfill his grandiose obsession.
As Chance, Rothhaar’s attempt to maintain the slack, affectless expression of a supposedly dangerous sociopath renders the character borderline unrelatable, while his homicidal impulses, described in frequent voiceover, are too ridiculously simplistic to take seriously. Likely the least prepared would-be killer imaginable, Chance has no plan, no skills and no exit strategy, but somehow Saint seems to imagine that his impulsiveness makes Chance more compelling.
At least Saint has a moderately better grasp of the film’s style, which is to be expected, since he shot and edited it as well. But the desaturated blues and grays that dominate most scenes drain nearly all the vibrancy from numerous beachside Los Angeles locations and render interior sequences flat and undistinguished, while a monotonous, repetitive score doesn’t do much to liven the action either.
Production companies: ReadyReadyReadyReady Productions
Cast: Will Rothhaar, Brooke Culbertson, Nancy Linehan Charles, Michael Rothhaar, Michelle Antoinette Roselle
Director-screenwriter: Gabriel Saint
Producer: Derrick Denicola
Executive producer: Richard E. Lambert
Director of photography: Gabriel Saint
Production designer: Gabriel Saint
Costume designer: Gabriel Saint
Editor: Gabriel Saint
Music: James Brent Armstrong
Venue: Dances With Films