Friday, December 29, 2006

Office Killer (1997)

Ever had one of those days at the office? It seems you do all the work but get none of the credit? Your co-workers mistreat you and you could swear that they talk about you behind your back? Your boss is a real pain in the ass and hardly acknowledges you unless something has been done wrong? Not only that, but after 16 years of working your ass off, you are given a pink slip and told your hours will be scaled back! Anyone would be ready to snap, right? Well, in Office Killer, employee Doreen takes her frustrations out the old fashion way…by killing her co-workers off one by one!...

Doreen (Carol Kane) is a mousy woman – she always has her frizzy hair pulled back, wears humongous glasses and dull, baggy clothes, is as meek as a mouse and is thought a bit weird by most of her co-workers, including Kim (Molly Ringwald). The magazine they work for is in the process of downsizing, thanks to new office manager Norah (Jeanne Tripplehorn). Norah has decided to bring the company into the digital age and introduces the employees to email and laptops. This way, most of them can work at home part-time and still be in contact with the office.

One night, Doreen stays late to work on a cover story for sleazy writer Gary (David Thorton) and accidentally electrocutes him. Thinking twice about calling the cops, Doreen decides to stash Gary in her basement. Soon, she starts killing all those who’ve wronged her (and those who haven’t, like two young Girl Scouts who show up at her door selling cookies) and has something of a corpse slumber party in her basement. She takes advantage of the new email system to make it look like the employees are just taking a break from their hectic schedules. Kim is the only one who suspects Doreen of foul play, though no one else will believe her.

Directed by famous photographer Cindy Sherman, who meant it as a social satire (the name of the magazine they work for is Constant Consumer, which is about as funny as the movie will get), Office Killer is a drab, boring and slow film. The lack of strong direction and story are the biggest flaws, with Sherman not knowing how to build suspense or tension. For being a photographer, Sherman doesn’t set up very many impressive shots. In fact, I can’t remember any that stand out or help build the tension (or lack thereof). The lack of suspense only makes the movie feel longer, even though it only clocks in at about 83 minutes. For a satire, it contains little subversive humor, something I was actually looking forward to. This could have been the Office Space of horror movies, dammit!!

The performances matched my view on the movie – drab and boring. The only people who stand out are Carol Kane as Doreen (who began to get on my nerves as the movie dragged on) and Molly Ringwald as Kim (playing against type as the office tramp). Kane does a good job of playing a crazy, but I never once sympathized with Doreen. I felt more like the other employees felt toward her – that she was downright creepy and strange. Ringwald, on the other hand, is the star of the show. As Kim, she's a saucy and strong woman who is the life of the (office) party. Ringwald is about the only thing right with this movie.

The psychology of Doreen and her childhood is not worked out enough and I really had to suspend belief when she started killing off employees. It just didn’t seem very believable, which is because her character is not developed properly. Her psychology and her motivations are muddled, and linking her childhood abuse to her killings just didn’t work. The least believable part is when she deviates from killing her co-workers and murders two little girls.

I really did want to like this film, but it let me down, big time. The satire is lost in its self-serious tone, the characters I could care less about, the script is weak and the pacing is leaden. A scene of the previously mentioned corpse slumber party is pretty fun, but it doesn’t make up for the other 80 minutes of boredom. Avoid Office Killer like your next office party!

Order it on Amazon!

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