What’s it About?
A retired FBI profiler is called in on a last case – only to find himself at the mercy of a teenage killer’s deadly game. He must use all his skills and experience to save lives, including his own.
“Profile of a Killer”
Directed by Caspian Tredwell-Owen
7 out of 10
“Profile of a Killer,” from 2012, is an admirable indie crime thriller that is straight forward, clinical and interesting. It isn’t flashy, over the top or even that gory or scary but it is absorbing and if this was what writer/director Caspian Tredwell-Owen (The Island) had in mind, then he has succeeded. Kind of. Tredwell-Owen’s film can be methodical, cold and detached in parts and this is why it can alienate some viewers who want a bit more of a hardcore outing and a more slice and dice type of serial killer flick. POAK is more of a wordy, character study that is propelled by smart and by the book dialog. This, in itself, can be seen as a bit of a turn off for some. Audiences now have the visceral and oft gory “Hannibal” to watch on TV weekly, so a movie like POAK can seem quite tame and even flat. But the film is indeed blunt and occasionally introspective which works in it’s favor.
POAK is ambitious but only as a snapshot into the minds and proceedings of a killer, his profilers, law enforcement and victims but nothing more. The movie is a elongated crime procedural and while that isn’t really a bad thing, the film could have benefited from a dose of brevity. Unfortunately, the material overstays it’s welcome after doing too many songs and dances. All isn’t lost because, Tredwell- Owen keeps us, at least, very bit glued to the film’s protagonists and the very linear build up that takes it’s time to unfold. If you do not dig a lot of talk and exposition then POAK wouldn’t be your cup of crime thriller tea.
The movie begins with some idyllic shots of a winter covered Minnesota and when some young boys playing in the snow discover a body the film begins it’s journey into the machinations of what it takes to track down and catch a smart and elusive killer. Ex-Profiler, Saul Aitken, played by the capable and solemn Gabriele Angieri (Eden and Moonlighting) is asked to return to profiling, with the FBI, in order to catch the now dubbed “H-61” killer who is stacking up a large body count (more like skeletons) in the northern mid-west during a bleak winter. Saul agrees and meets up with the chilly Agent Rachel Cade (Emily Fradenburgh of “Ghost from the Machine”) after they go over some of the details of the discovered bodies and how they differ, Saul determines that there is something quite different about this killer and that it appears that he is playing a game or trying to be something altogether un-categorizable.
Saul is eventually put up in a hotel where the H-61 killer, dressed as a delivery person, abducts Saul and transports him to a abandoned dairy farm. Once there the killer is revealed as a young teen named David (Joey Pollari), who wants Saul to play a type of game where if Saul can expertly “Profile” David it may or may not save lives. Thus, begins a cat and mouse game where David goes through his list of victims (using a slide projector) and soon to be victims to try and get Saul to participate in his wicked and twisted game. Tredwell-Owens writes David as a lean, articulate and unassuming kid as he prepares scrambled eggs for Saul. But underneath, David is cold, calculating and resourceful. He is also equally deranged. Meanwhile, Cade and her team try desperately to find out where David has Saul holed up. David continues his gruesome work and Saul continues to spiral downward as he is continually doped up, abused and is deprived of proper food and nourishment.
“Profile of a Killer” for some reason insists on flashing a countdown of the days. Day One. Day Two and so on. It is a bit of a distraction and because of it’s pace after the halfway mark we tend to wish that perhaps everything could be wrapped up by Day Seven or Eight. But it doesn’t happen. Despite the quick, smart and analytic exchanges between Cade and her men (One being an officer she sleeps with) it is the repetitive Quid Quo Pro between David and Saul that gets a bit tedious. A bit of precision on Tredwell-Owens’ part with the elaborate self psycho-analysis of David to Saul could have made the film less weighty.
Some lapses here and there caused me to get a bit impatient with the movie but Fradenburgh, Angieri and some nimble and brainy cop talk would re-center the material for me. It isn’t truly an edge of your seat picture and one of my gripes is Pollari himself that can project the look of a deranged person but when he talks and emotes he comes across too bratty and the more he pontificates the less dangerous and remote he comes across.
I suppose it was a feat to try and humanize him but at times it fell a bit flat and he just felt like a dumb kid (this is after he tells Saul that he doesn’t fit any profile) with too much time on his hands and a gun. For me, Pollari is a weak link in Treadwell-Owens’ film. When David flies off the handle I just could not buy into Pollarii’s performance and being just a teen I felt he was lacking. I just wanted to knock the kid on his ass and slap him with the gun. Now, if David were, say, a young woman.
That may have been interesting. Pollari does give it the old College try and I applaud the effort. Another strength, is the film’s look. It’s cold, dreary and the film has a sort of “Fargo” type look to it especially at the film’s climax. The film’s DP, Joe Picciolo and production designer Jean Dalsin make the film look slick and shots of snowy roads, freeways and barns all look very good on screen. Much like the crime vibe and the dialog, the film is covered in authenticity and despite the low budget the film looks expensive much to the credit of the filmmakers.
“Profile of a Killer” is not some overblown, loud and feeble-minded crime film full of car chases and explosions. It isn’t a horror movie either, in my opinion. It is a decent serial killer film that has a few bumps along the road but eventually gets righted by some engaging performances that are clean and precise. Fradenburgh’s Cade is tough, cerebral and unrelenting. In a short scene of self confessing, Fradenburgh delivers a story into her background to a fellow task force officer and here, she is warm and vulnerable. She remains quite unique as is Angieri who is earnest and sympathetic as well. Tredwell-Owens’ film is nice to look at and has a very antiseptic feel at times but it contrasts the themes, heart and soul of the material which is a gritty and dark world to witness.
This film does not have “Hollywood” written all over it and it is the kind of movie that should be noticed for it’s depth and judicious place among other indie films of it’s ilk. It won’t please everyone especially those looking to witness constant bloody mayhem and fast cuts of shootouts and gunplay. This film is actually the antithesis of that type of movie. A slow burn so to speak. A bit too slow sometimes but give it a chance because the wrap up is emotional and abstract. Kudos to Director and Writer Caspian Tredwell-Owen. I am keeping an eye out for any of his future projects. He has a knack for great dialog and a good eye for detail and drama.
Special Thanks to Producer Jasmine Reid!