'68 Kill': Film Review

Courtesy of IFC Films
Gleefully revels in its own tawdriness.

A robbery leads to unexpected ultra-violent consequences in Trent Haaga's blood-spattered dark comedy.

Writer-director Trent Haaga’s long tenure at shlock-oriented Troma Pictures serves him well for his sophomore feature that features enough grotesque sex and violence for a dozen B-movies. This tale of a hapless everyman led on a dangerous criminal path by his sociopathic, sexy girlfriend is so outrageously lurid and over-the-top that it practically demands to be seen only at midnight. A film which clearly and desperately aspires for cult status, 68 Kill will undoubtedly have its fans, but they won’t be people you’ll want to have over for dinner.

That the central character, Chip (Matthew Gray Gubler), works for a sewage company instantly signifies that he’s about to get caught up in a very messy situation. That he’s hopelessly besotted with his white-trash girlfriend Liza (AnnaLynne McCord), who supplements their income by providing sexual services to their trailer-park landlord, is instantly signified by the film’s symbolic opening shot of a fly trapped in honey.

During one of the tawdry assignations in the creepy landlord’s lavishly appointed house, Liza discovers that his safe contains $68,000 in cash. She naturally proposes to Chip that they escape their bleak existence by robbing him, although she assures him that it’s highly unlikely that they’ll need to use the loaded guns she insists they bring along.

Famous last words as the heist inevitably goes awry, with two people dead and a beautiful, lingerie-clad young woman, Violet (Alisha Boe), stashed in the couple’s car trunk. Liza decides that their captive will be a nice gift for her brother (Sam Eidson) who, even by sexually deviant serial-killer standards, seems a bit off.

Finally deciding that he’s endured quite enough violent mayhem, Chip ditches his girlfriend and takes off with Violet still in the car. But that’s far from the last of his misadventures. The seductive Violet turns out to be no slouch herself when it comes to criminality, and further complications ensue involving a goth convenience-store attendant (Sheila Vand) and her randy co-worker who trades Chip information for oral sex.

The screenplay isn’t likely to win any awards, considering that it features such dialogue as when Liza complains to Chip about their impoverished lifestyle: “You shovel shit for a living! I suck dick! I’m sick of it!”  

That McCord can make such lines ring true is a testament to the convincingness of her aggressively sexy turn during which she frequently wears as little clothing as possible. But it is Gubler’s appealing performance that anchors the proceedings. Investing welcome doses of humor into his portrayal of a man who is in way over his head with his encounters with a series of femme fatales, trailer trash and murderous psychos, the actor manages to make his dimwitted character sympathetic in the best film noir tradition.

Production company: Snowfort Pictures
Distributor: IFC Midnight
Cast: Matthew Gray Gubler, AnnaLynne McCord, Alisha Boe, Sheila Vand, Sam Eidson, James Moses Black, Ajay Mehta, Michael Beasley, Dave Maldonado, Hallie Grace Bradley, Peter Jaymes, Eric Podnar, Lucy Faust
Director-screenwriter: Trent Haaga
Producers: Travis Stevens, Bob Portal, David Lawson Jr.
Executive producers: Inderpal Singh, Stephanie Trepanier
Director of photography: Needham B. Smith
Production designer: Angela Gail Schroeder
Editor: Valerie Krulfeifer
Composers: Haim Frank Ilfman, James Griffiths
Casting: Samy Burch

100 minutes