Killer Therapy is just the sort of bad film that makes you wonder how anyone thought it was worth putting it out into the world, but actually actively offends common decency. This psychological thriller come slasher film thinks it’s We Need to Talk About Kevin by way of Falling Down but actually ends up being every edge lord revenge fantasy of getting your own back against people who you believe owe you something.
Co-writer-director Barry Jay shows no prowess with any of the themes he wants to deal with, setting up the story of Brian, a troubled young man whose mental issues worsen when his mother and father adopt a young girl. The rationale is that they worry having another biological child might yield another clearly evil child – and yet mother Debbie (Elizabeth Keener) seems in total denial.
The film jumps forward constantly following the childhood of Brian (Jonathan Tysor) who is so obviously an evil headcase you expect to find 666 on his scalp at any moment. He bites his adopted sister Aubrey (Ivy George) out of malice and pushes a bullying boy out of a tree-killing him – despite the drop only being maybe a foot or two. Brian goes through several different therapists before being released as a young adult – Michael Qeliqi where he fails to reconnect with his disinterested father John (a low energy Thom Matthews) or a grown-up Aubrey (Emma Mumford doing the best she can without going red with embarrassment), for reasons unknown to anyone he opts to murder his mother and spiral from there.
The film is horrifically made, the chopping editing flashes red at the screen to indicate bad things coming, and going for about eight cuts a minute so that you get the edgy cracked psychological effect, only all it does is highlight how poorly lit and shot the whole thing is. This wouldn’t be such an issue if the acting was better. Everyone appears to be uninterested, forcing their dialogue out like people on the clock with no passion for the story and it’s not hard to see why.
What really makes Killer Therapy so rotten to its core is how it demonises the mentally ill, Brian is both a relentless mental person biting and killing and abusing people with demonic relish and a figure of “woe-is-me” pity, his father berates him for practicing his oboe, his sister doesn’t want anything to do with him, but he also snaps sneaky pics of girls from afar and murders people. It also turns every therapist into a villain, implying them to be either child abusers or the worst kind of Nurse Ratched style “I do this for your own good” villains.
At ninety-four minutes the film isn’t exactly long but the film’s shoddy production and poor acting make the film painful verging on unwatchable at times but not in the good way you’d hope. It makes Joker look like Taxi Driver.
Dir. Barry Jay
Scr. Barry Jay, Andrew J. Scheppmann
Cast: Michael Qeliqi, Elizabeth Keener, Thom Matthews, Emma Mumford, P.J. Soles, Michael Dempsey
Prd. Jennifer M Esquivel, Barry Jay
DOP: Jay Lee
Music: Ethan Arlook, Kevin DeKimpe
Runtime: 94 minutes
Killer Therapy is available on Sky & can be bought on Amazon here