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Making A Killing
cast: Billy Geraghty, Deborah Sheridan-Taylor, Hywel Morgan, Sean Gallagher, and Gregory Cox

writer, producer, and director: Ryan Lee Driscoll

89 minutes (15) 2002 widescreen ratio 16:9
Guerilla DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Steven Hampton
"Do you know how many people disappear each year?"

After his unfaithful wife is apparently murdered, wretchedly depressed widower Chad finds that he's left in dire financial straits. Feeling guilty over the affair, his wife's lover, Jake (Hywel Morgan), tries to help Chad claim the insurance money but, without a body, there's no payout. And then Jake concocts a scam with the help of his filmmaker buddy Vic (Billy Geraghty). They will get an actress to play the killer's next victim and provide video evidence of a copycat serial killer's next crime. Sarah (Deborah Sheridan-Taylor) is the sexy blonde wannabe starlet who accepts the conmen's invitation to be slain on screen for a share of the insurance loot but, during the gang's back-bedroom studio 'rehearsals', distrust, greed and betrayals cause much friction, setting each of the three against the others, with big money as the winner's prize.

Faintly absurd, this ultra-low budget British thriller, shot with digital cameras, is a tolerably unpalatable combo of postmodernist Hitchcockian mystery noir and sleazy tabloid slasher flick. Making A Killing wants so badly to be a knowingly funny, engagingly witty, exploration of the intriguing moral conflicts between art and business, criminality and righteousness, and reality and illusion that it really hurts to watch at times. The multiple double-crosses arrive just in time to save us from getting bored with the humourlessly scripted role-playing, and while Ryan Lee Driscoll eagerly shuffles through his movie's bumper fun pack of slice 'n' dice subgenre clichés, there's sufficient incidental detail to ensure that even the most demanding fans of Argento-style whodunit (or will-they-get-away-with-it?) should remain quite happily amused.

In the end, however, Driscoll and company succumb to a fairly lazy and routinely predictable dénouement that honestly does nobody any favours. I won't give the ending away, but seeing as how we're forewarned with this kind of material that nothing we see happen on screen is 'real', armchair detectives will doubtless spot every quirk and twist of the hackneyed plot at least five minutes ahead of time. In fact, though, the serious problem with Making A Killing is its glaringly noticeable cheapness. Rooms are too sparsely furnished (even for newlywed first-time house buyers), and - more often than not - so compact (read that as dolls' house sized) they're clearly DIY sets (such as that windowless upstairs landing) built inside an ordinary, average house. You know that something's amiss when a serious drama fails to hold viewers' attention, and you become more aware of the shabby décor than what the cast are saying, even when they're all just trying out their dialogue and practicing their individual roles before the main event.

DVD extras: behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes, stills gallery.
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