“First kill you like it. (You) will love it”
After their controversial gory, cult-flick Rumah Dara (Macabre, 2009), Mo brothers have made a name for themselves among the fan of the genre. Especially since Timo Tjahjanto follows it in the following years with his work in horror anthologies V/H/S 2 (segment: Safe Haven, 2013, with Gareth Evans) and The ABCs of Death (segment: L is for libidio, 2012). Their sophomore effort is a collaborative psychological thriller with Japan. Timo Tjahjanto wrote the screenplay with japanese producer Takuji Ushimaya. Killers (written in japanese katakana kiraーzu) debuted in Sundance films festival along with Gareth Evans’ The Raid 2: Brandal.
Nomura Shuuhei (Kazuki Kitamura) look like any other successful young exec. But beneath the sleek designer suits, he’s a psychopath. A japanese counterpart of Patrick Bateman who preys on unassuming females that succumbs under his charm. In the depth of the forrest, in a house made out of concrete labyrinth, he records his victims inside of his torture chamber and upload the footage of his sprees as a snuff video website . Meanwhile in Jakarta, live Bayu (Oka Antara) working on a dead end job as a failed journalist after his effort to uncover the dirt on corrupt politician, Dharma (Ray Sahetapy), was botched. His personal life was just as depressing. He was trying to patch his broken family while on a brink of divorce and estranged from the wife and daughter that he still love. After an incident that resulted in his unpremeditated murder, Bayu embraced his violent tendency, finally having a taste of taking another person’s live just like what he loved to watched online, turning himself into a self-righteous vigilante. The two men soon formed an unlikely bond and developed a camaraderie through the net.
I found it a little bit weird because in most of the summary it is mentioned that ‘the pair find one another on the Internet and begin a toxic and competitive duel‘. In my opinion the relationship between Bayu and Nomura initially started as student and mentor, in which Bayu begin to embrace his violent tendency (as appeared in the fights with his wife) and started from his fascination towards snuff films. The two later become a nemesis alright, when Nomura literally taunts Bayu. Nomura seemed to consider the Bayu like a friend and inviting him to play in his twisted game. His weapon of choice are always those that inflicts pain, ensuring the victim to suffer from a slow, excruciating deaths. Quite different to Bayu who choose a gun to give quick deaths to his victims.Antara embodies the ambivalent nature of Bayu, making him a powerful character study that is quite captivating. I think Bayu also represents us as viewers, as we question the ambiguity of the moral stance of killing, whether there’s a good enough reason to take another person life. I found the psychological drive of a serial killer to be quite fascinating. In the case of Kitamura (who i saw repeatedly from japanese dorama), he began when he tried to immortalize his older sister. But i never fully grasp the reason nor his motif on torturing the victims.
I found these two characters to be quite fascinating. I felt the two separate stories are strong in their own rights but as the two started to interlaced it begun to feel strained. I felt it need a little breathe a little, but the duration clocking more than 2 hours long, already quite tedious for me. Even the slo-mo felt overt and unnecessary (kind of ruining the melancholical effect the filmmakers probably aiming for, perhaps). There are a lot of things i don’t think are vital to the story and could be left out in the cutting room, which would benefit and create a more effective final product. Although not without flaws I have to applaud the cinematographic option taken this time. Giving the film a sleeker, cleaner look than the previous works from Mo Brothers. I took this as a sign of growth from the Mo Brothers. It has a little more wit, and possessed a little more restrains than their previous flick, maturing from the unnecessary bloodiness and never-ending gore.
The entire film borrows its melancholiac feel from Bach’s Air on G string as the film score, which reminds me of another japanese psychological thriller Battle Royale. But the scene that left a lasting impression for me was the closing scene that suggest critic towards people general attitude towards death and violence. Is the film worth seeing? Yes, if you don’t mind a bit of gore or just a fan of action. Would you like it? Well, perhaps it’s up to each of you to pass your own judgement. I personally think it has an appealing potential and i hope for a more sophisticated thriller from the Mo Brothers in the future.
DIRECTOR Timo Tjahjanto, Kimo Stamboel | PRODUCER Timo Tjahjanto, Kimo Stamboel, Yoshinori Chiba, Shinjiro Nishimura, Takuji Ushiyama | WRITER Timo Tjahjanto, Takuji Ushiyama | MUSIC Fajar Yuskemal, Aria Prayogi | CINEMATOGRAPHER Gunpar Nimpuno | EDITOR Arifin Marhan Japri | DISTRIBUTOR XYZ films | COUNTRY Indonesia, Japan | RUNNING TIME 137 minutes | RELEASE January 20, 2014 (Sundance), February 6, 2014 (Indonesia)
STARRING Kazuki Kitamura, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy