An Angry Nerd Movie Review: Anonymous Killers
I got the chance to check this film out recently, and I was very much looking forward to it ever since I first learned of its production. The plot for this film really grabbed my attention because this is a psychological thriller, and I really enjoy those types of films. Looking at the IMDb description of this film, you can see why it piqued my curiosity; Four seasoned killers and one hapless professor are rounded up in one violent swoop and awake in chains to discover they are part of a demented experiment orchestrated by their maniacal, mysterious captor. It goes without saying that I will not be issuing any spoilers because I want you to enjoy the various emotional responses you will undoubtedly experience as the stories of the anonymous killers unfold.
When you are making a film in which multiple people who are ruthless, merciless killers but are at the mercy of someone who is, somehow, even worse than they are, you need someone who can provide the requisite menace and be believable in their knowing superiority to their captors. Nathanyael Grey pulls this off masterfully. With the subtle ferocity of Hannibal Lecter and the moral superiority of John Kramer, Grey’s Emaramus Kloath is unflappable in the face of threats and curses from his captives that would turn lesser men’s legs to jelly. He is not without compassion and does not subject his captives to anything more than what is absolutely necessary in order to achieve his goals, even offering them water. However, he has very strict rules in place that must be followed to the letter and without exception.
Grey seems to know much more about his captives than they realize, and as he torments them with his perceived high moral ground, and they slowly realize that there is only one way out of their predicament – play the game. Each killer must tell their story and elicit sympathy from their fellow captives to secure their freedom or face what Kloath promises to be terrible suffering before their death.
In so many films, you simply don’t care about the victims, but this is not one of them. As we delve into the backstories of each of the captive killers I found myself really rooting for them. Many of these stories fall under the umbrella of “there but for the grace of God go we”, as we learn what made them into the people we see being forced to reveal their most vulnerable emotional wounds. Watching this film, I looked at each of them and thought to myself, “Can I say that I wouldn’t have followed that exact path had my life gone that way?”. Like the tagline says, beyond hate, empathy begins.
I think this is a testament to the storytelling skill of writer/director A. R. Hilton in his first feature film. When I learned about that I was very surprised, as this seemed to be the work of a far more seasoned filmmaker. I will absolutely seek out more of his work in the future, and I am very interested to see how he follows this up. He managed to craft a compelling narrative while also weaving some incredibly poignant social commentary into the story of each and every character while not clubbing you over the head with the metaphors. He made very deliberate choices every step of the way, from the backstory of each character to the way they interact with both each other as well as the characters in their histories and with Kloath himself, and the way the film opens by grabbing your full attention and refusing to let go is done masterfully. There is never a lull in the action, despite the almost soothing voice coming from Nathanyael Grey which concurrently sets you at ease and on edge.
The killers themselves are played exceedingly well by the actors involved. From “The Hitman” Romero Scaranelli (Dominic Pace) to “The Black Widow” Lucia Black (Gabriela Lopez), to “The Seductress” Marlene Gunthery (Natassia Halabi), to “The Mercenary” Amadu Fofana (Patrick Caberty), and “The Professor” Curtis Tiddleman (Kevin Glikmann) we are treated to a diverse range of not only the inciting factors that led our cast down the path upon which they currently tread but also of the backgrounds from which they came. Each specific story informs our overall opinion of the characters’ lives and choices. One of them feels out of place, while others absolutely seem to belong there, although we can understand why they ended up in the predicament in which they found themselves as the actors do an amazing job of conveying their backstories in a way that presents them as sympathetic victims.
There are no weak links in this cast. Dominic Pace leans into his performance with an uncompromising emotional range, Natassia Halabi’s performance makes you want to root for her even as she’s committing the acts that led to her capture, Gabriela Lucas’ depiction of Lucia Black’s confidence and sheer strength of will is inspiring and praiseworthy, Patrick Caberty’s raw, brutal quest to establish dominance as Amadu almost makes you forget the sins of his character and the intellectual manipulation of Kevin Glikmann’s Curtis Tiddleman will have you questioning your own morals as you secretly root for the fate of each character.
There is enough in each of these characters that we see a bit of ourselves, or our friends or neighbors. We can commiserate with them because we can understand their struggles and their desire to rise up and push back on the boots that have trod upon them and, therefore, us as the characters mirror our places in society and our uphill battles we wage every day. I highly recommend this film. You will be shocked, you will be angry, and you will find yourself in an uncomfortable position; championing for the freedom of some of the worst people society has created. And it will be in that moment that you realize that these people aren’t inherently bad, but they are the lens through which society presents itself, and the control of the powerful over the weak is bondage against which we all struggle, praying our fellow humans will aid us in our quest for freedom from our captors.
Anonymous Killers will be available to stream on Vudu and through the Google Play Store on Tuesday, October 6. For more updates on the film, and to follow on social media, please visit https://anonymouskillers.com/.