Once again, I unlimbered the ol’ La-Z-Boy and kicked back to enjoy a film that, while not horror in the generally accepted sense, still fit the bill in terms of subject matter, levels of tension, and the dark thoughts that you’re forced to consider as you watch.
Profile of a Killer came outta the box reminding me of a couple other films: a touch of Manhunter’s plot mixed with an episode of Criminal Minds on steroids; however, as I watched the film, I found that although some of its elements could be found in these sources I mention, the script of this ambitious indie flick definitely stood on its own, with a fresh spin on the story and some nicely-done suspense.
Skeletons are being found in and along the river running near Interstate 61 in Minnesota. Even more chilling, these skeletons have been wired to posts and sunk with concrete, but never enough to quite obscure; indeed, these were meant to be found, signs pointing to a serial killer. Regional and Federal law enforcement quickly form a task force to find and catch this psycho, and the local sheriff calls an old friend for help; Saul Aitkin, former FBI Behavioral Science profiler and author of a book on his experiences getting inside the minds of murderers. Saul agrees to come and assist; the FBI Special Agent In Charge, Rachel Cade, seems almost resentful of this, but seems resigned to accept any help she can get. After looking at the evidence, Saul comes to believe that this deranged subject is issuing a challenge to law enforcement; he soon finds out how right he is. Saul is kidnapped from his hotel room, awakening in a cold, abandoned house in the clutches of the psychopath, David…but this particular lunatic isn’t at all what he had expected, on several levels. What ensues is a game of wits between the profiler and the killer; the latter promising to stop his crimes if the wizened veteran can live up to his reputation and correctly deduce the reasons why he kills.
Technically speaking, it was hard for me to believe this was a low-budget indie; the set pieces, camera work, lighting and soundtrack were top-notch. There were actual police vehicles, accurate-looking uniforms and squad rooms…very nice production value throughout. The acting was solid all around, with even the walk-on one-liner folks being convincing. The three principals were outstanding: Gabriele Angieri as Saul brought a perfect balance of calm, scientific resolve and deep, restrained emotion to his role. Emily Fradenburgh carried a barely-controlled sense of justice and deep-rooted rage in her portrayal of Special Agent Cade, but with a thread of vulnerability that served the characterization well. Finally, the killer himself; Joey Pollari, really shined in his depiction of David; he was able to be both chillingly fearsome and childishly fragile, depending on the script’s demands. I found his villain detestable yet pitiable at the same time; impressive skills considering…well, I can’t say too much without spoiling some of your fun, Fellow Fans. =)
There’s not really a lot of expository gore for the hounds; the effects of the desiccated skeletons are well-done, and there are a couple of other scenes that are real visceral gut-puncher moments, but these are kept to a minimum and used with purpose. Overall, the only gripe I would have is that the second reel gets a little dialogue-heavy, and can get a bit confusing if you’re not on your toes. Whereas I understand that this was important for keeping up the psychological tension, I can see where it might drag a bit for those looking for a movie that you don’t have to think too much about.
I’d certainly categorize this flick as more of a “psychological thriller” than a purebred horror movie, but it still walks that razor’s edge of exploring the nature of evil and how it walks among us; in my mind that counts. I personally enjoyed it; I found the idea compelling, the story and direction competent, and the acting enthralling. As I touched upon, many might feel that it runs a tad long, but I didn’t feel that there was any “filler”, just a lot of story to tell.
If you’re looking for a bloody-fun roller coaster ride, you should probably give this one a pass; if, on the other hand, you like your chills to be a slower burn with more of psychological edge, and enjoy films like the aforementioned Manhunter or its successor Silence of the Lambs, I’d definitely recommend this one; it’s a pretty intense ride with a nice twist.
That’s my two-fifths of a nickel for this one.