Have ever had one of those days where everything seemed to go wrong? You had a flat tire. Your boss singled you out for another new project, even though you haven’t finished the last two he threw on your desk. Your kid got sick and threw up the Beefaroni he had at lunch all over his teacher and now you’ve got to go get him. The obstacles pile up and you’re certain there is no way this day could get any worse. Trent Haaga wants you to know that it can.
68 Kill, the writer/director’s latest project produced by Snowfort Pictures and AMP International and distributed by IFC Midnight, focuses on Chip (Matthew Gray Gubler of “Criminal Minds”), a regular Joe with a regular job and a not so regular girlfriend. In fact, Liza (AnnaLynne McCord of “The Night Shift”) is just a little bit psychotic…maybe more than a little…this woman is crazy as a bag of rabid ferrets. While Chip works cleaning our septic systems, Liza supplements their income by spending time with her sugar daddy, When Liza discovers said sugar daddy has $68,000 in cash in his safe, she decides it’s the answer to all of their problems. Naturally, they just need to steal it.
Chip reluctantly agrees to help her after her repeated promises that no one would get hurt. What’s could possibly go wrong, right?
The answer is everything. Everything can go wrong, and people (mostly Chip) are going to get hurt.
Chip spends the remainder of his night discovering just how bad things can get as he tangles with one group of psychotics after another. And whether it’s Liza’s brother, who has a thing for chopping up women’s bodies in his own snuff films, or a group of drug fueled miscreants who decide to teach him a lesson, beautiful women seem to always be involved.
Haaga’s script, based on the pulp novel by Bryan Smith, keeps the violence at eleven from start to finish, and keeps the film walking the tightrope between grindhouse exploitation and a modern day comedy of errors.
This balancing act could not have worked without Gubler in the role of Chip, however. Not only do we sympathize as Chip is put through the wringer but we root for him as his reactions evolve from shocked victim to determined, if bumbling, survivor, and that’s entirely down to Gubler’s embodiment of the role. We don’t often see a script flipped this way. By the end of the film, when he’s pissing blood and making a last ditch escape, I was rooting for him, out loud, to drive. Get out of there! JUST DRIVE!
What I found most interesting about 68 Kill, however, is that unlike any other film of its kind, Chip is the victimized half of his relationship. All too often, this character would have been female, and this twist on the norm is interesting, especially in my own reactions to it. There was a feeling, in the beginning, of the film being off kilter. As the realization of what brought on that feeling set in, it was time to sit back and think about it, which was not something I expected from a movie like this.
In the end, I realized that it was not only a welcome change to see these roles reversed, but it also highlights the fact that all too often men are silent victims in abusive relationships which is a conversation we don’t have nearly enough in this country.
68 Kill is a fun, adrenaline-soaked thrill ride for fans who like a dose of dark comedy with their violence. The characters are over the top, the violence is raw and unflinching, and the laughs are plentiful. The film releases August 4, 2017. Check out the trailer below and don’t miss 68 Kill on IFC Midnight.