Sunday, April 2, 2023

We Kill For Love (2023) Overlook FIlm Festival

During the 1980’s and 90’s (mostly the 90’s) the home video market was flooded with racy thrillers filled with sex and violence. The films tended to show rich people in LA cheating on each other and committing crimes.  They had names like DEADLY OBSESSION, DARK CRIMES and THE RED SHOE DIARIES. So many were being cranked out that Cinemax was called Skinemax by many people simply because their night time offerings were filled with these softcore offerings. With the rise of the internet and the shifting of the home video market the production of the films has lessened to a great degree. However some people have an affection for the racy thrillers and they are behind this look at the history of the genre that taught many a teen about sex.

Filled with lots of behind the scenes tales, WE KILL FOR LOVE is everything you ever wanted to know about these softcore thrillers plus two hours of additional material. This wildly over long documentary runs two hours and forty three minutes and unless you are as obsessed as the filmmakers you’re going to bail on the film well before the end. The problem is not that the film is bad, though there are problems, it’s more that unless you are an absolute obsessed fan, there isn’t enough here to keep you seated for three hours.

The first problem with the film is that the film seems to be wonky on  the history of the sub-genre. The film suggests that the template of the films, particularly the  look and details of the films all come from Brian DePalma’s DRESS TO KILL, seemingly unaware that DePalma was riffing on the films that went before it. The history on either side of that is equally spotty.  The films prior to the 1990’s seem to be given equal weight simple because they are mentioning them rather than their importance.  Watching the historical discussions I wanted to get out a red pencil and edit the material because having lived through and followed the film industry for decades I was filled with a constant stream of “yes but…”  Honestly if this film wasn’t three hours long I could have lived with it but time wasn’t an issue so it should have given more detail.

The editing of the film doesn’t help.  At times the material feels scattershot. I’m not sure why the film puts some of the clips together or why some of the films are grouped together. We’ll get posters or clips for 8 films from the late 1990’s  and then one from the 1980’s before a whole bunch more from the 90’s.  Direct to video mix with theatrical in ways that don’t make sense if you’ve seen the films.

It doesn’t help that the film takes the films incredibly seriously. While I am all for taking film history seriously, some things should considered seriously in a magazine article in Film Comment where it's brief and to the point, as opposed to a doctoral thesis where things are over analyzed. WE KILL FOR LOVE is a doctoral thesis.

Because the film is long and detailed it has a  HUGE problem in watchability in that by bringing all the clips of all the films together the film effectively destroying the genre. As the film opens the film shows us how similar all the films are in setting  (they are all set in “somewhere LA”) and look (they string similar sequences together)  it kind of kills the desire to ever see any of them ever again. Watching the film I saw clips from some films I had seen and liked over the years because they seemed different, but in the hands of the director Anthony Penta they suddenly seemed unremarkable. It’s like the films have been photocopied or cut and pasted.  People complain that the program films of the Golden Age of Hollywood being all the same, these softcore thrillers really are.

Watching all three hours of WE KILL FOR LOVE removed any and all interest in ever seeing any of these films ever again.

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