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Worth A Look: 11.76%
Average: 35.29%
Pretty Bad41.18%
Total Crap: 11.76%

2 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Office Killer
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by Filmnet

"Psycho meets Working Girl and Revenge of the Nerds"
3 stars

The American family as a hotbed of neurosis, sexual abuse, dysfunction, perversity; and so on. These are among the many common interpretations and films that one could apply in a brief, capsule description of Cindy Sherman's debut feature OFFICE KILLER. Indeed the film itself invites such comparisons and interpretations. It functions purely as a surface-deep, post-modern reference to and re-working of the horror genre post 1960 (and some elements of noir) and the modern office environment with a particular emphasis and bent on girrl power in all its extremity and perversity.

Whether or not the film manifests the same qualities associated with the work of this renowned American visual artist/photographer - visionary, cutting-edge, provocative - is highly debatable. Although Sherman's work in the field of photography (which, in a similar vein to the film, explores female tropes of representation and image) may be all of this, her venture into film is much less bold. OFFICE KILLER is not some grand feature debut about Sherman settling scores with personal and past issues in her life, or providing the definitive portrait of female subjectivity. There are no grand stories or intimate portraits in OFFICE KILLER. It is, on the contrary, a small-scale foray into the horror/slasher genre and an exercise in the practice of inter-textuality and genre referencing and reworking.

There is therefore nothing particularly "bold" about this film. Stylistically, it's very plain and, where aspects of camera movement, editing and colour scheme are concerned, even a little drab and non-inventive. But OFFICE KILLER doesn't "pretend" to be anything anyhow - it's not stylistically showy or particularly glamorous or slick in feel or tone. It takes place in a limited number of locations (the office, the home) and these are not the most attractively designed places, in fact, they're almost oppressing in their blandness! OFFICE KILLER is a 'little' film that certainly doesn't take itself too seriously but is fun at that.

The film begins at the office of CONSTANT CONSUMER magazine - a venture going downhill profit wise. The camera gradually makes its way through the space of the office, revealing at different turns the various characters and their interrelationships. The magazine is run by glamour, cutthroat queen Virginia, (played by European actress Barbara Sukowa) who has ordered the downsizing of the office staff. Among the major characters is Molly Ringwald, who appears as Kim, the not very intelligent and jaded editorial assistant; a party girl at heart, she is more interested in the thrills and dynamics of opposite sex work relationships then work itself. Jeanne Tripplehorn plays the corporate-minded, even-tempered Norah Reed. The heartthrob of the workplace is Daniel (Michael Imperioli) who provides some form of excitement and stimulation to the female workers. Among them is timid copy editor Dorine Douglas (Carol Kane).

In the modern office environment, a space to exercise a sense of power and control, to 'strut one's stuff' and score big either in the professional or personal department, Dorine emerges as the self-effacing, ego-less office worker. She is the stereotypically unsexualised female: thick glasses, elderly dress sense, lives at home, without a 'life', virginal. Although the longest employee at CONSUMER CONSTANT magazine, her presence goes practically unnoticed. She barely expresses herself amidst her ego-driven, sexualised co-workers. That is, until one dark night when fellow colleague and heartthrob Daniel is electrocuted to death and within Dorine a perverse and morbid instinct is unleashed and a channel for self-expression uncovered.

In typical horror/slasher fashion OFFICE KILLER follows Dorine as she, one by one, does away with each office worker. In a particularly morbid vein, she sends emails to fellow colleague (and rival) Kim whose curiosity of the whereabouts of her missing co-workers and suspicion of Dorine increases. The film descends into the macabre and the gory as Dorine's psychosis is further revealed, especially in her keeping company with the dead. Finally, Kim becomes the "last girl standing" in a series of murders that at the film's end are not resolved or for which the killer is accorded retribution. In fact, Dorian becomes the film's anti-hero appearing in the final shot confident, sexualised and ready to make her mark at a new office (near you!).

The film gets a bit mechanical and tiresome towards the end where the killer continues to trap another unsuspecting victim. There is no element of surprise here, as we know who the killer is and that it's just a matter of time before either everyone gets killed or someone uncovers the truth. The majority of OFFICE KILLER works more through shock (or, rather schlock) than suspense.

OFFICE KILLER is laced with motifs, characters and themes that refer to Hitchcock's PSYCHO: the oppressive mother, the basement, the dead and decaying bodies preserved and mistakenly considered alive, the socially awkward and highly unsuspecting killer. But the film also references the work of Italian horror/gore filmmaker Dario Argento, Brian De Palma, slasher films and teen films, through the presence of Molly Ringwald. OFFICE KILLER is a distinctively offbeat and wacky film that purposely never takes itself seriously.

The appeal of OFFICE KILLER also lies in the performances and the colourful and humorous line-up of stereotyped characters that populate the office. It's particularly fun the way Sherman highlights workplace dynamics and the office as the space for the playing out of catty, interpersonal rivalry and bitchiness. Each character is played out with a certain degree of irony and self-consciousness that makes the performances very engaging and amusing, especially when played by well-known and great actors like Molly Ringwald and Carol Kane.

Despite at times being seemingly pointless and tiresome, OFFICE KILLER is for its luridness and offbeat qualities, worth catching. (Fiona

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originally posted: 03/31/00 16:48:33
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User Comments

12/25/01 Andrew Carden All That I Can Say Is: LOL. 4 stars
4/17/01 Spetters Weird, but because of Sukowa, Ringwald and Kane strangely compulsive viewing. 4 stars
4/01/01 Jesse L oh man bad plot meets bad acting....hit the exits!!! 1 stars
1/14/01 Avenger Girl Well how typical and predictable, but has some good ideas 2 stars
4/26/00 Klute. Pretty awful. A big disappointment. 1 stars
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  03-Dec-1997 (R)



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