Wednesday, June 27, 2012

DVD Review: OFFICE KILLER (1997)


Region: 1 NTSC
Rating: R
Duration: 83 Mins
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (No Subtitles) 
Video: 16:9 Widescreen
Director:  Cindy Sherman
Cast: Carol Kane, Molly Ringwald, Jeanne Tripplehorn
Tagline: Working Here Can Be Murder

Synopsis: Dorine (Kane) is a quiet and diligent social outcast who has endured years of abuse as the office doormat. When the magazine she works for takes a dive, Dorine hangs on through the downsizing and drastic changes. But one night, the mild-mannered paper-pusher accidentally electrocutes an obnoxious co-worker, and in the process, completely short-circuits her sanity. From that moment on, Dorine believes that anyone can be her best friend…once they're dead.

This was a film I caught on IFC some years ago no doubt drawn in by the appearance of my one true 80's crush - Molly Ringwald - whom one could quite easily argue I spanked it too on way too many occasions in my adolescence - total crush - it's embarrassing.

In the indie slasher Office Killer (1997) we're introduced to the staff at the Constant Consumer magazine. A small time publisher suffering through a period of budget cuts and restructuring - you know - corporate downsizing. This was 1997 so these poor bastards aren't even aware of just how bad things would become for print media in the very near future. Dorine (Carol Kane, When a Stranger Calls) is a mousy proof reader on staff who gets demoted to working part-time from home at the start of the film. She's a tightly wound bundle of nerves, one of those wallflowers that's a bit too quiet. She lives at home with her invalid mother Carlotta (Alice Drummond, the librarian from Ghostbusters!) and her cats. I first suspected  there might be more to her than just being awkward during an early scene when a cats brings to her a dead mouse and she throws it down the garage disposal, that's just disgusting, normal folks just don't do that.

Also on staff at the magazine are ax-woman Norah (Jeanne Tripplehorn, TV's Big Love), the bitchy Kim (Molly Ringwald, Breakfast Club), the chain-smoking asthmatic Virginia (Barbara Sukowa, M Butterfly), tech-guy Daniel (Michael Imperioli, TV's The Sopranos) and douche-nozzle staff writer Garry (David Thornton, TV's Law and Order).

Just after getting the news she's been demoted Dorine finds herself working late in the office when the womanizing douchebag Gary calls her into the office to fix his computer but he is accidentally electrocuted when Dorine resets the tripped circuit breakers while he's messing with some wiring. At first Dorine attempts to do the right thing by calling 911 but instead chooses to take him home where she props him up on a couch in the basement. This accidental death spurs Dorine to set off on a bloody office murder spree taking out her co-workers one at a time all the while sending emails from her new laptop at home that would seem to indicate odd but somewhat logical reasons why the staff are dissappearing. Amidst these killings we're treated to flashbacks from Dorine's childhood and a strange relationship with her father (Eric Bogosian, Talk Radio) which give us insight into her quirks and murderous impulses.

As the body count climbs Dorine's basement quickly nears capacity with cadavers, the spree is not limited to co-workers either and the bodycount includes two young  girlscouts whom show up on her doorstep one day selling cookies. Dorine spends her time amidst the decomposing bodies talking to her new found friends while her cats eat at them, she tends ttheir feline woulds with packing tape and Windex. The only one to suspect Dorine is a psychotic killer is the pushy Kim (Ringwald) but her warnings fall on deaf ears and to the detriment of the non-believers. 

The film has a decent body count but it is most certainly not a blood bath in anyway, it's pretty tame in the gore department. What we do get an electrocution, poisoning, a throat slashed with a cuisinart blade, attempted stranglation, a tire iron to the skull, stabbings and several offscreen deaths of undetermined nature.

Verdict: This film is an odd, quirky late-90's indie slasher that's pretty entertaining. 1997 was not a great year for memorable horror films - we had Uncle SamMimic, Event Horizon and an obscure little film Bleeders - that's really about it and I would be quite pleased to hear this film mentioned a bit more when 90's horror is talked about. Sure, it's not gonna make anyone's top 10 list but it is an entertaining office slasher that deserves a space on your shelf somewhere between Office Space and Corporate Cutthroat Massacre, fun stuff. 2.5 Outta 5