aspiringpsychopath_dvd

Aspiring Psychopath (2007) Directed by Ryan Cavalline
Starring Danielle Donahue, Eddie Benevich, Peter Blessel, Joel & Catherine Wynkoop

Nothing unfairly prejudices the audience like no budget. Unfortunately our palettes have been spoiled by studio grade audio and cinemascope picture and we involuntarily react when what is being presented lacks the high gloss finish of a bankrolled project. It doesn’t help that many no budget features fail to compete on any level, a fatal flaw which sends Aspiring Psychopath spinning into the rubbish bin.

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The premise is self-evident and simple with a single twist– the psychopath in question is from the undeniably neglected demographic of female killers. It’s not that women have never been portrayed as ruthless and violent but typically the sub-genre of 80’s revenge flicks ala’ Ms. 45 create a viable motivation and the slaughter is a justified act of vigilante justice. Kathy Bates was a deranged and obsessed wingnut but her insanity, while statistically slight, at least fit within the conventions of possibility. Lucinda (Danielle Donahue) babbles about murderous fits of fiction as a child and losing her mom to a barrage of bullets but it’s never a credible tale. The obviously improvised ranting intended to accommodate her inspiration for becoming a serial killer sounds less like the monologue of a lunatic and more like someone grasping at straws in the dark. Her schtick (a serial killer requires something to differentiate their acts from simply being mass murder spread out over time) is that she stalks serial killers (who have no apparent M.O.) and learns from their methods. This is made clear after the first twelve minutes of insufferable dialogue and poorly orchestrated violence which precedes the credits and found me talking to a cat and shaking my head.

The acting is crap. While Donahue (who shares story credit) sinks into her barely-there character with glee her range is contained within the extremes of talking to herself and screaming obscenities at others. The other talent seem content to stick to screaming obscenities or telling Lucinda she’s crazy, then screaming in pain. Assuming that all of the dialogue was improvised this might help to explain the horrible dialogue and stilted movements but no one in this movie will be awarded any position in a community theater group.

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Digital video is cheap and easy to work with but shooting raw without the aid of filters during or post production lands the visual appeal in home movie terrain. The audio sounds as if they relied on the condenser mic on the actual camera as it distorts regularly and echoes in between bursts of static. Elements of gore could have been captured just as well with ketchup and framing everything so we don’t see hammer landing its blow only reminds you that it’s fake. Cavalline’s philosophy of direction is to keep the camera rolling, catch what the actors do and not edit a single fucking inch out of the final print. His single display of cache is to thieve the rutted and regrettable legacy of media critique pioneered by Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers by injecting snippets of footage and TV static without sense of timing (perhaps intentionally for an unsettled effect) or clear reason.

Two surprises. The incidental music is shockingly well produced. That doesn’t mean it’s very good but the quality and the layering on top of the movie’s audio is as good as television. There are also a couple exploding brains special effects which were surprisingly well done but this doesn’t make up for the lazy and cheap effects which barely splatter around the screen. Okay, a third stunner was that someone was convinced to be naked in a scene and it wasn’t even someone so obviously invested as Donahue. What kind of world have we created where girls will strip for a flick which would never advance any hopes of a career, even one in porn? Avoid this fucking movie at all costs.

My experience was not without a silver lining. While I cringed and distracted the cat my mind wandered, considering elements of the movie’s staggering plot and any possible relationship to the world. Suddenly the memory of The Smiley Face Killer surged back from the depths of time. A coworker had stumbled across the case which involves some 40 homicides through eleven states and as many years. We watched an expose out of (I think) Minneapolis which details the crimes, the links and an investigation still tracking developments. Conclusion was that the link was all the victims were fratboys and we fantasized about some vengeful force lurking outside college bars and Greek rows righting wrongs, spurred on by the past. You be the judge– there’s a part two video in the related videos afterwards.

Screenshots were plucked from The Blood Shed and their sympathetic review. Poor quality Youtube videos are being blamed on WordPress’s refusal to support certain types of code and video formats unless I give them money and make it a three step project.

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