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Featured DVD Review: Office Killer

June 3rd, 2012

Office Killer - Buy from Amazon

Office Killer is a black comedy that came out in 1997, but only managed a token limited release before fading away. Now that it is being released on a bargain DVD, is it worth rediscovering? Or should it be fired with the rest of the films that don't pull their weight?

The Movie

The film begins with Dorine Douglas explaining Constant Consumer's rules. Pull your weight, or be terminated. Constant Consumer is the magazine where Dorine works as a proofreader, a highly efficient, but under-appreciated proofreader. The head of the magazine, Virginia Wingate, is modernizing the company. Or to be more accurate, she's getting one of her underlings, Norah Reed, to switch the company to computers. This is causing massive downsizing, and it falls to Norah to hand out the bad news. Dorine survives the first round of firings, but is bumped down to part time and will be working from home. This is doubly bad for her, because not only will she be earning less, she will be spending more time with her demanding mother.

Before they can be transitioned to part-time, at home work, they all have to get new laptops and have to learn the new system, so it will be a few days. In the meantime, Dorine works late into the night trying to get her old computer to work, but ends up with a near constant buzzing coming from her computer. The only person still in the office is Gary Michaels, one of the writers. He agrees to help figure out what's wrong, but instead of helping yells at her so much that she retreats to the bathroom. While she's there, he turns off the main power to mess with the electrical circuit her computer was plugged into, but when she gets back, she accidentally turns the power back on, killing him. In a state of panic, she calls 911. But instead of doing the sensible thing, she covers up the accident and hides his body in her basement.

The next day, after Daniel Birch installs the new computer system in her home, Dorine sends an e-mail to Kim Poole, a higher up in the company, and Gary's mistress. She knows enough about the system to make it look like it came from Gary. It just says, 'I need a break.' This little deception works and no one thinks he's dead, although his wife might wish it. But Virginia forces Dorine and Kim to work together to recreate Gary's story. So again, Dorine is forced to work a late night at the office. This time, when Kim goes out for food, Dorine decides to add to her collection of corpses in her basement, by tampering with Virginia's inhaler and killing her with an asthma attack.

She's graduated from accidentally killing a co-worker, to intentionally killing her boss. ... And then propping them up in the basement and watching TV with them. Something's clearly cracked with this woman.

The film was directed by Cindy Sherman, who is best known for her work as a still photographer. (In fact, this is the only feature-length film she directed.) She does infuse the film with a lot of style. There's a Film Noir-like use of shadows throughout the film. This is one of the highlights of the film. Also, Carol Kane gives a great performance as the mousy office drone who snaps after a lifetime of being bossed around, while Molly Ringwald is also strong as the only one who sees what's up. On the other hand, she doesn't quite get the right tone for a black comedy / satire. Simply put, it needed to be funnier to sharpen its edge. It's not scary enough to work solely as a slasher flick, although, there's quite a bit of gore, so it needs to be really strong while it satirizes office politics. It's only average in that regard. As a result, the film tends to drag at times and the energy sags.

The Extras

Like many Echo Bridge releases, there are no extras on the DVD. However, it only costs $7, so it is still a good deal for fans of the movie.

The Verdict

If you like the genre and some of the cast, the Office Killer is worth checking out. I picked it out because it had Carol Kane playing a serial killer and I'm glad I got a chance to see it, but I'm not sure there's enough replay value to warrant buying over renting. On the other hand, the DVD cost just $7, so it is hard to argue with that price.

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Filed under: Video Review, Office Killer