Lionsgate // 2005 // 82 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 28th, 2006
Neighbor. Husband. Father. Killer.
No offense to the victims of the dickhead upon which this lame-ass movie was based, but I've always thought "BTK Killer" sounds like Burger King's latest hamburger monstrosity.
BTK Killer tells the story of Dennis Rader (Gerard Griesbaum), the man nabbed as the notorious BTK killer, a Midwestern menace who was accused of killing at least 10 women in the late '60s and early '70s. Director Ulli Lommel (who directed The Boogeyman) attempts to bring to life the looniness that infected this outwardly pious and dedicated church-going family man/dogcatcher.
The emphasis lies with Rader, who we see in flashbacks and in the present, prior to his arrest. What we don't see is the investigative process that eventually brings him down. BTK Killer is fashioned less as a procedural and more as an investigative look in the mind of a madman, using the tiniest conceivable budget.
BTK Killer is a true sack-sucker of a movie. It is a monstrous waste of time and laughable attempt at coherent filmmaking. Honestly, there is so much wrong with this dysfunctional movie I can't really think of anything that went right.
Things That Are Stupid in BTK Killer
* The Visions
To inject some manufactured dread into this forlorn affair, Lommel intersperses random, odd visions into the narrative flow. A woman has a recurring dream of being tied naked to a table while leering wackos assault her with garden implements...I think. I don't know; it was kind of hard to follow thanks to the drunken camera work.
* Pointless Slaughterhouse Footage
Similar to the above, this tactic was shoehorned to generate some element of terror. Lommel wove real footage from a slaughterhouse into the film, supported by cheesy faux-horror music, for no perceivable reason other than to score some cheap gross-out points. This brilliant strategy backfires as it simply calls attention to the fact that someone put images of cows getting carved up in a movie that isn't about cows.
At one point, when the film moves from the '70s to the 21st century, the actors, staring at the viewer, digitally (and awkwardly) "age," and return to their regularly scheduled movie. What a goofy way to tear down the fourth wall.
* The Sets
While nothing about the production design is particularly good, attention needs to be paid to the church set. Lots of the movie transpires here, as we see Rader donning his introverted churchgoer façade. But, judging by the set, the congregation meets in a living room, big enough to hold five people and the pastor. Even better: the church was the same size in the 70s as it was in 2004! (Psst, congregation, time to let the pastor go; he's not doing much to grow your church body.)
These are the transgressions that stick out in my mind. The usual stuff sucks too: acting, writing, music, all of it, balls. And the whole thing just looks wicked cheap. I think the biggest misstep, story-wise, was focusing on Rader and completely ignoring the other side of the case, the investigation. Crazy bald dudes I've seen; give me some Midwestern crime history I can at least learn about! Kick this one to the curb.
Save 80 minutes and shave your genitals with a weed whacker. You'll replicate the experience of watching BTK Killer just fine.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Filmmakers Commentary