Lionsgate // 2005 // 85 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 25th, 2005
Transgendered homicidal glee.
It's tough being dumped. It's probably hard on the alpha male ego to drive a girlfriend to lesbianism, especially when the lesbian who stole the girlfriend away is a complete jerk. Is it enough to drive a man to become an really hideous woman and start killing people? In the absence of any current scientific data, I offer Switchkiller.
Jamie (Cara Jo Basso, The Sex Substitute 2) has to escape her life. Her psychotic boyfriend has just gone ape-dirt, slamming her head over and over again into a car dashboard, wrecking half of her face. So she decides to flee to Las Vegas, a town renowned for its respectful treatment of women. That was almost a year ago. Since then, she's moved in with her kindly grandmother, started up a self-immolating relationship with a nasty lesbian, and taken a job as a successful stripper. Life is good.
But just when the G-string seems stuffed with success and happiness, the lube hits the fan. A string of grisly slayings is rocking Las Vegas, and the targets are all strippers that Jamie knows. In fact, it seems that anyone Jamie has had even remote contact with is soon sliced and diced. Who is behind the murders? Why it's the ugliest man-turned-woman ever! And Jamie is next.
Switchkiller, previously known as Trans-American Killer -- which sounds more like an airline for felons -- is an old-fashioned slasher pic. The standard ingredients are present: lots of fake blood, gratuitous breasts, a clueless hero/heroine, and a deranged murderer.
What the film lacks is any modicum of suspense. There is no big reveal at the end of the affair where the slasher's identity is unveiled, and lo and behold it's the janitor! No, we're fully aware of who the perp is and why he's doing what he's doing throughout the film.
The movie is very, very short. The "official" runtime tags it at 85 minutes but don't believe the hype. Switchkiller is barely over 70 minutes long, and sports a ridiculous and superfluous ten minute recap of the entire movie, obviously inserted to bloat the time a little.
So this isn't a drawn out experience. The bodies start falling very soon, and don't stop falling, right up to the blood-soaked finale. The storyline is so threadbare -- psycho boyfriend starts killing almost-attractive strippers -- you won't be bothered with tedious gobs of exposition and/or character development.
Breasts and blood -- those are Switchkiller's selling points. It is, however, still a low-budget crap-fest, despite these honorable mentions. The acting is awful from top to bottom. The non-story that is the plot is a Catch-22: for a flick like this, less story is often better; but a lack of a compelling narrative makes it an uphill battle for the filmmakers to engage the audience. Production values range from MTV-ADD quality, with quick edits, color saturation and awkward camera angles, to "too much information, thank you." (The full-frontal flash by the newly sex-changed murderer at the end falls into this category -- GGGRRRGGHH. Sorry...just dry-heaved a bit thinking of it.)
Lions Gate gives Switchkiller its "nobody cares anyway" treatment. A cheap-looking full-frame presentation mixed with mediocre 2.0 stereo sound is the order of the day, and leaves much to be desired.
The "movie" part of it is woeful -- story, characters, etc. -- but Switchkiller is never reluctant to splatter the blood and bare the bosoms. And that may be barely enough to save it from the Void of Forgettable Horror Knockoffs.
Guilty of being cheap and stupid and derivative, but the jury would like the court to note the accused is not a total loser.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R