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Case Number 20886

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The Killing Jar

Image Entertainment // 2010 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 11th, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson left a few nickels in a tip jar but didn't realize it was a Killing Jar. What happened next was too terrible for words.

The Charge

Eeny, meeny, miny, murder.

Opening Statement

That terrible tagline—the official one, I swear—is an indication of what is to come.

Facts of the Case

In a remote diner, news comes over the airwaves about a brutal crime: an entire family was murdered. Shortly after, a pair of strangers wanders into the restaurant and everyone's suspicions immediately perk up. There's the soft-spoken African-American gentleman enjoying a coffee (Harold Perrineau, Lost) and the fearsome gangster-looking guy (Michael Madsen, Bloodrayne).

Accusations soon filter around the diner and thanks to an impulsive decision by a cop, violence soon goes down and Danny Trejo's head gets blown off.

The Evidence

For the first 80 minutes, The Killing Jar was, in all respects, a below-average movie. It was gimmicky, being shot entirely in one diner, over the course of one night. The gory violence didn't seem to fit the tone, making the exploding heads and geysers of blood seem like a quick and dirty way to score some exploitation credibility.

The central mystery of who was responsible for the killings failed to deliver as well, seeing that the reasonable suspects could be counted on three fingers, short-circuiting much of the suspense.

As undercooked as all this is, the film really craters in the last 10 minutes. Seriously, the way Killing Jar falls apart in the home stretch is remarkable, a collapse during crunch time that can only be rivaled by what the Miami Heat does on a nightly basis. In these moments we have the final confrontation between the plucky waitress-turned-heroine (Amber Benson, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and the revealed perpetrator. I knew I was in for a world of hurt when—SPOILER WARNING—this hapless waitress cuts a man's throat with a steak knife (!). Now, I've long since accepted Hollywood's ridiculous contention that cutting grown man's jugular is as easy as slicing a machete through flan, but even this was tough to swallow.

What really stings is the prolonged dialogue exchange, where the bad guy repeatedly taunts the waitress and dares her to shoot him to death (is this reckless hectoring in the Dumbass Villain handbook?) and, well, I won't ruin it but what you'd expect happens, happens. Add in the choppy writing and the atrociousness of the actors' delivery (some of the worst line delivery I've endured this side of Teen Ape) and you're staring down the barrel of a brutal capper to a lame endeavor.

Bare-bones DVD: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 surround, and no extras.

Closing Statement

A bad movie implodes at the worst time. Seek entertainment value elsewhere.

The Verdict

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 85
Extras: 0
Acting: 60
Story: 50
Judgment: 52

Perp Profile

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Drama
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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