Bill Koning’s low-budget, shot-on-video opus “Silo Killer” suffers from schizophrenia, but other than that it’s a surprisingly entertaining first stab at moviemaking. The thing is, had Koning picked a tone and stuck to it, “Silo Killer” would have been better than it currently is. It’s certainly a clever little film as is, with some above-par acting and a script that is oftentimes funny and, in its third act, completely unpredictable. The problem, of course, is that the movie is too random for its own good, with a script that wants to be all things to all people.
Our film opens with the murder of a frantic girl by an ax-wielding maniac. The maniac is killing his victims around a giant silo out in the Arizona desert, although for a stretch of land that’s supposed to be out of the way, that’s a mighty big stretch of state highway running right through it. In any case, into the Silo Killer’s world waltzes college sweethearts Stu (Brandon Malone) and Liz (Katie Carroll) on a camping trip. They have come with an assortment of buddies the likes of which you’ve seen in countless Teen Slashers.
This is where the film begins to lose its focus. After another brief (and insignificant) murder by the Silo Killer, the next 40 minutes or so are devoted to comedy skits and relationship issues between lovebirds Stu and Liz. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in a movie with an ax-wielding maniac, we get about 40 minutes of sketch comedy interspersed with character development. Lord help us all!
Thankfully the film eventually gets back to its horror roots when the Silo Killer shows up after a long absence to showcase his excellent chopping skills. This is where the film seeks to buck the Teen Slasher conventions it’s mostly followed up to this point. I won’t spoil it, but needless to say “Silo Killer” seems very in tune with what it’s supposed to do, and seems to delight in going in the opposite direction. Case in point: as they are being stalked by the killer, one of our couples ends up in a cul-de-sac, where the male half decides to toss his significant other at the killer so he can escape. Now tell me you’ve seen that before!
But alas, “Silo Killer’s” Achilles heel is the random nature of its narrative. At one point the preppy-looking Stu inexplicably changes into a wigger, complete with street slang and guns galore. Also, the film spends about 10 minutes with two gangsters that goes absolutely nowhere. Their appearance, one suspect, was to offer up sacrifices to the Bodycount Gods since there won’t be new additions for, oh, another 40 minutes or so.
Koning’s script also caps things off with what can only be described as one of the longest coda in the history of film. The final payoff is intriguing, but I’m not sure following a man through the desert for such a long period, doing nothing of note, is justified. The coda itself, while being grim and moody, seems to belong in a serious movie about the habits of serial killers, and not a film where characters were yukking it up just moments before their unfortunate demise. Once again, the tone of the film is all out of whack.
Minus its erratic nature, “Silo Killer” is a lot better than it has any right to be. Most likely shot for a measly sum with its video camera budget, the film nevertheless looks slick, thanks to some inspiring camerawork. For sheer creativity, “Silo Killer” gets a lot of brownie points. This is definitely not a point-and-shoot endeavor, and Koning proves that he has the makings of a good filmmaker. With a decent budget, Koning could very well become an excellent mainstream director.
Despite its faults, “Silo Killer” is worth seeking out. The ironic thing is that Koning probably decided to bleach out the film with bright yellow filters during the day scenes to hide the film’s “video look”. The thing is, he needn’t have bothered, because “Silo Killer” would have worked just as well without half the film drenched in bright yellow or dull blue.
And maybe I’m just very easy to please, but this could have been a really funny spoof on Teen Slasher films. If the film was intended as a spoof, it further makes my point that the movie simply failed to pick a tone and stick to it.
Bill Koning (director) / Bill Koning (screenplay)
CAST: Brandon Malone …. Stu
Katie Carroll …. Liz
Brian Reid …. Lyle
Jared Conti …. Duke
Carter Hagerman …. The Silo Killer