Thursday, October 4, 2012

Killer Laughs: "Make a Killing" (2004)



AKA is a typical small business you might find in any town. John (Brian Colonna) is the CEO trying to please all the clients. Sylvia (Hannah Duggan) is the harried director of operations, holding the company together. Steven (Evan Weissman) heads up transportation with the help of intern Bobby (Ryan Trost). Fran (Jeni Rinner) and Joshua (Gregory Webster) are on the artistic front, there for the aesthetic requirements of a client. The group functions well, despite the bickering. AKA stands for Assisted Killing Amalgamated, and the company helps any maniac (with enough cash) pull off the carnage of their dreams.

Directors Chris and Vanessa Magyar have done a forty minute documentary spoof that works for thirty five minutes. The cast throws in tons of improv, almost all of it funny, and the film is shot "Cops" style, complete with shaky cameras. AKA has the usual flaws you might find in any small business- hiring a freelance infiltration specialist (Lodore Brown) to lure unsuspecting virgins to their deaths and a major character who is accidentally run through with a sword- and this is all part of the charm.

The entire cast is hilarious, all working well together. I have no idea how they kept straight faces when talking about focus groups to find new client Randall's (Erik Edborg) serial killer name, or Fran's discussion of her fear of poop and Joshua's step program to overcome this trauma. The music cues are few, but all work well, especially when the company must deal with a client or co-worker's death.

The DVD (www.make-a-killing.com and www.assistedkilling.com) includes the original ending, deleted scenes, and a very droll commentary from the Magyars. I did not think much of the film's ending, nor of the original ending, but that was my only complaint. The Magyars spend their commentary making fun of their cast and crew, since they freely admit that had no idea what they were doing technically, which is a nice change from some inebriated-sounding director pontificating on the hazards of shooting with only a few million dollars to work with.

"Make a Killing" is "Reno 911" meets "The Apprentice," with "The Silence of the Lambs" thrown in. Along with the earlier reviewed "Beer Muscles," "Make a Killing" is proof positive that microbudget film making might finally be headed in the right direction. (* * * *) out of five stars.