Review: Out to Kill (2014)

Out to Kill

Rating

Director
Rob Williams
Screenplay
Rob Williams
Length
83 min.
Starring
Scott Sell, Rob Moretti, Mark Strano, Tom Goss, Christopher Patrino, Michael Kenneth Fahr, Nicholas Burgos, Christopher Cutillo, Lee Williams, Aaron Quick Nelson, Joey Panek, Mark Manning, Karleigh Chase, Jeffrey Klein
MPAA Rating
Unrated

Buy on DVD/Blu-ray

Review
Niche cinema has always struggled to find great writers, great directors and great actors to enliven their output. Out to Kill is one of many films of modern Queer Cinema that can’t quite seem to put all the pieces together to break out from its narrow demographic attachment.

Private detective Jim Noble (Scott Sell) has just moved into an apartment in an all-gay complex. He hopes to start his life fresh, but when the self-centered, slutty party boy Justin Jaymes (Tom Goss) ends up floating face down in the pool, Jim is pulled in at the complex manager’s (Rob Moretti) insistence to investigate the crime, uncovering twisted alibis, dangerous recriminations and ultimately leading to a murderer’s revelation that only makes sense in retrospect.

Writer/director Rob Williams makes his seventh feature outing with this cluttered murder mystery that trots out a lot of familiar gay caricatures. That’s not to say that an attempt to be inclusive isn’t appreciated. In this subgenre, the tendency to find and employ porn stars and porn star-grade actors is a real problem. Here, there are a variety of body types, professions, races and gay sexual interests on display, which is a welcome change to the buff super stud selections that have often bloated these types of films, pushing away those who some in the industry feel aren’t attractive enough. The characters are built around obvious stereotypes nonetheless.

Out to Kill suggests that Williams is fond of the 1980’s murder mystery dramas like Murder, She Wrote and Magnum P.I., but not familiar enough to avoid ham-fisted replication rather than crafting a quintessential homage. One of the reasons those shows excelled is that the lead actors solving the dramas were compelling, fascinating characters. Angela Lansbury and Tom Selleck were capable actors who brought the audience in to their challenges and made them feel welcome. The character of Jim Noble is almost as self-absorbed as the character he’s hunting and while that sets up the film’s final act, it’s enough of a distraction early on that it takes time to warm to the ideas the story is presenting.

None of the actors in the film succeed at breaking down genre stereotypes. Their performances are thin, generic affairs that showcase little in the way of potential and only serve to make the film’s premise seem a little unfocused. Finding a better range of thespians, or perhaps finding someone who can better draw out fine performances, is a necessity for improving a subgenre that’s only appealing to a small subsection of the gay community and is certainly not capable of branching out beyond that.

Out to Kill has some appeal. You eventually come to care about a handful of the characters, but the film tries awfully hard to keep that from happening. The end is a bit unexpected, though in hindsight it almost seems obvious. There’s a clear desire to try something new, but the ultimate result is something not wholly successful. It’s a movie that just can’t find a path through the morass of home video-ready Queer Cinema titles in order to distinguish itself.

Review Written

April 8, 2015

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