Satire, Slasher, Thriller

Office Killer (1997)

0 Comments 25 August 2012

Studio: Echo Bridge
Theatrical Release: December 3rd, 1997
DVD Release: June 5th, 2012
Rating: R
Directed by Cindy Sherman
Review by Craig Sorensen

One of the ‘90s most underrated genre films gets unceremoniously dumped onto a barebones DVD release by Miramax/Echo Bridge.  Directed by noted artsy-fartsy photographer Cindy Sherman, Office Killer doesn’t seem to get a whole lot of respect these days.  Certainly the film is not without it’s problems but there’s still a lot to enjoy here.

Carol Kane (The Mafu Cage) plays Dorine Douglas, a mousy proofreading drone at the failing Constant Consumer magazine.  Hated by her coworkers and living with her sick, manipulative mother (what budding psycho doesn’t) Dorine lives a pretty pathetic life, the only joy coming from her job.  Jeanne Tripplehorn (Waterworld) plays Norah, who is brought in to bring the magazine into the 21st century by shifting editing duties over to computers, cutting many jobs in the process.  Dorine is pushed close to the edge by having her hours cut and being forced to work from home.  Working late one night, Dorine somehow fries her computer and manages to accidentally electrocute co-worker Gary (David Thornton of Home Alone 3).  This is of course the tipping point.  Dorine snaps and starts killing co-workers, dragging their bodies home and creating her own fantasy office.

Despite having some serious things to say about consumerism, American business ethics and gender roles (this is Cindy Sherman obviously), the film is played for laughs.  This is more camp than horror.  The style of the film has more in common with the Kuchar Brothers than other “slasher” serial killer films of the time.  Sometimes the jokes work, sometimes they don’t, but the genial atmosphere (which I realize seems at odds with the subject matter) keeps things light and moving quickly.  Of course this film, being directed by Sherman, looks fantastic as well.  The director and cinematographer Russell Lee Fine are able to imbue what could have been just another generic throw away slasher film with an undeniable sense of style.  And, unlike most genre dreck released in the ‘90s, that style is used to illuminate and inform the themes of the film rather than just make the director look cool and hopefully get them laid.  There are some interesting ways in which faces are fragmented in the frame, reinforcing the identity issues for example.  The film also echos a lot of Sherman’s photographic work in the way it deals with gender and identity issues through the lens of genre tropes and kitsch.  For what little there is here in plot, the film more than makes up for it in deeper themes.  Also there’s some nice gore shots so there’s that…

 

As I said above, Office Killer feels kind of dumped back onto DVD by Echo Bridge.  A DVD is certainly not unwelcome as the previous edition has been out of print for a long while (there is a copy of that going for 75 bucks on Amazon right now).  And you certainly can’t complain about the price (about seven dollars), but I really wish that this had been given a nice Blu-Ray special edition.  Hell, I’d have been happy with a DVD special edition.  There isn’t even a trailer on this thing.  I’d really like to hear a commentary with Sherman and Kane at the very least.  The DVD looks fine anyway, so I don’t have any complaints there I guess.  It’s presented in a good looking 16:9 transfer.  Colors look like what I remember theatrically, very saturated.  It does appear interlaced, though it didn’t really distract from my viewing.  I just think that such a visual film needs a 1080p presentation.  Why is something like this, which has actual talent behind it, dumped onto DVD and something like Tale of the Mummy gets a nice Blu-Ray release?  I’m sure that Echo Bridge is just working with what Miramax supplies them with, so is the issue with the Weinsteins?

Rating: ★★★½☆

 

- who has written 151 posts on UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews.

Craig hails from 'Parts Unknown'.

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