Film Review: Killing in the name of

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I received the screener for “Grandpa’s Psycho” on behalf of Osiris Entertainment.

This one threw me. If you look at that title, you don’t really know what to think. A film about a grandfather’s brat of a child? A film about a grandfather that IS a psycho? Why isn’t it called Psycho Grandpa then? All of these thoughts were going through my head. Once I saw the film, it became clear to me in regards to the meaning behind the title. Still not a fan of that title though!

If you do happen to purchase this film, I will say this: do not expect a horror film or a slasher film whatsoever. This is not either of those things and if you go in with those expectations, you will be sorely disappointed. This is a psychological thriller with elements of drama and suspense but not a lot in the way of sheer horror. In fact, this reminded me a lot of the film Frailty, which even had a similar premise of a man looking to cleanse the souls of people he found by killing them in front of his children in order to serve God. In this film, the man in question is attempting to “save” women who he finds to be morally repulsive and if he can not, well, he kills them and mourns that he’s “failed.”

In order to do this film properly, you certainly need some decent acting and we get that and then some from the lead actor. Gunther Grambo plays the main role of Grandpa Murry with a calm exterior and a dark and twisted interior that sometimes finds its way to the surface. We see him acting very calm, cool and collected with his grand-daughter and other loved ones but as soon as we see him with one of his victims he switches to someone of dark intensity and rage. To be honest, he is the only one that stands out, which makes sense because he is the lead but I had a hard time with the other performances in the film. It’s not that they were weak but rather that the characters were fairly thin and they didn’t have much to work with overall. The young girl who plays Murry’s grand-daughter wasn’t too bad of a child actor (and I have seen some BAD ones recently) but this is Grambo’s movie. The women in this film don’t fare too well either in terms of the characters being positive role models or wholesome or anything like that. In fact there is probably only one female character who is a good person but even she reacts a certain way late in the film that has me wondering about certain aspects of Murry’s family.

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The film also suffers a bit from a pacing problem. I am all for a movie building slowly towards a proper climax but this film meanders a bit in the first half until it seemingly takes forever when the plot is finally advancing in a meaningful way. Besides that, another thing I had issues with was the lighting. At times I adjusted my computer screen thinking that it was turned down or something but it was the lighting in the film that was often times muddied or just way too dim to see everything on-screen. There are ways to have low-level lighting and still see the screen and I felt like this just needed to be lifted up a tad.

The question then persists: is the lead actor strong enough to carry the whole film on his back despite some issues with the pacing and the technical side? Yes and no. When the film is good it’s quite good but when it gets a little bogged down, it can be dreary and it drags a bit. The second half of the film elevates it slightly though as the tension ramps up and we get a pretty surprising plot twist involving Murry’s grand-daughter. It gets a little silly in one scene but overall the twist is jarring and actually caught me off-guard when I first saw the film.

So what can I say? An okay film that definitely has its share of problems throughout but still watchable based on the performance of its lead actor.

NOTE (for wrestling fans): TNA Knockout Velvet Sky appears late in the film. She was OK.

** ½

 

Rating System:

* (Brutal; the worst rating)

** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)

*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)

**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)

***** (Flawless; a true achievement)