It’s no secret that the slasher sub-genre is my favorite of all when it comes to horror cinema. When done correctly, these films can be both shocking and entertaining. These days, however, it is rare to watch a slasher film that isn’t merely an attempt of reproducing the 80’s golden era with the term ‘throwback’ in mind. Luckily for us diehard fans, there are still a few filmmakers out there who produce some real quality slasher material. One of those filmmakers is Matt Farnsworth and he has created something truly special with his film, The Orphan Killer.
At a very young age, Marcus and Audrey Miller witnessed the brutal slaying of their mother and father. Submitted to the custody of the state, raised by nuns in foster care, the two learned to cope with their circumstances in much different ways. Audrey was eventually adopted, leaving her disturbed brother all alone. Years later, Marcus (David Backhaus) has returned to make his sister repent for leaving him for all this time.
I remember reading about Matt Farnsworth’s The Orphan Killer upon its original release and distribution in 2011/2012. Everyone seemed to be praising the film and it quickly began to develop somewhat of a cult following, at least in the circles I was a part of online. My excitement to see the film increased, but I was never lucky enough to get my hands on any of the different releases that were floating around. Fast forward five years and I now have the privilege of saying I have finally watched the film. Was it worth the wait? Yes!
The Orphan Killer contains all of the necessary tropes we’ve become accustomed to over the years — a beautiful female protagonist [who we happen to see nude], a masked lunatic on the loose, and a high body count. These things alone, however, are not enough to make a horror film worth our time. They are simply only a few of the building blocks. Thankfully, Farnsworth and his team have all of the necessary tools to take those blocks and build a big, bad-ass fortress.
More often than not, low-budget cinema features some mediocre acting and poor special effects. Not this time around. While a select few of the performers could have been replaced by more talented ones, it wasn’t enough to put a damper on things. The majority of the cast did a wonderful job, but I most impressed by Diane Foster and David Backhaus, as Audrey and Marcus/T.O.K., respectively. The two worked remarkably well together on-screen and it was a joy watching them for the film’s 83 minute runtime. Backhaus isn’t an exceptionally brooding man, but he is just large enough and menacing enough behind that mask to put the fear of God in you.
Another rather annoying reoccurrence I experience with independent horror films is the use of heavy metal music as a soundtrack and/or score. It is usually thrown together very poorly and really helps to further the negative experience I’m usually already having with the particular film. This is another instance in which Farnsworth demonstrates the intelligence and talent to make a fantastic film. He did indeed use heavy metal tracks as a basis for his soundtrack, but it was done responsively, enough so that it actually intensified the actions unfolding on my television, as opposed to overpowering everything and taking me out of the moment.
The cast for The Orphan Killer is rather small, so it is hard to have an extremely large body count pile up. With that said, there is still plenty of killing, all done uniquely enough to not get stale or redundant. Furthermore, the gore isn’t as over-the-top as some other recent low-budget fare, but still more than enough to get your own blood pumping… hopefully still inside your body. Everything is done with practical effects, as far as I could tell, and every severed limb, decapitation, and mutilation looked fantastic.
Matt Farnsworth has truly given fans a solid entry into the modern-day slasher sub-genre. Serving as writer, director, producer, and almost anything else you can think of, he managed to give us a story with yes, great kills, nudity, and a crazed, masked killer, but also with more substance than most. The religious overtones and references were a welcome addition to help make Marcus Miller aka the orphan killer more than just another psychotic murderer with no purpose.
If you love slasher flicks as much as we do at Repulsive Reviews, do yourself a favor and check out The Orphan Killer. It’s got everything you could ask for in a great, entertaining, kick-ass horror film. I sincerely hope that we see more of Marcus Miller in the future and can’t wait to see what Matt Farnsworth might cook up for us. This could easily become the next killer franchise I’ve been looking forward to for years.
Nico B. and the guys at Reel Gore Releasing are truly doing an amazing job with their catalog so far. They really are gathering the best of the best in the independent horror community, bringing awesome releases to home video. Be sure to pick up your copy today, available now on DVD and Blu-ray. The release includes a behind-the-scenes featurette, a music video, and one of Reel Gore’s trademark collecting cards.
I give The Orphan Killer 4.5 stomped-on-skulls out of 5.