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  Killer Therapy Budding Bastard
Year: 2019
Director: Barry Jay
Stars: Elizabeth Keener, Thom Matthews, Daeg Faerch, Michael Qeliqi, Jonathan Tysor, Emma Mumford, Ivy George, Angelique Maurnae, Javon Johnson, Michael Dempsey, P.J. Soles, Adrienne King, Nicole Appleby, Skyler Caleb, Lola Davidson, Trevor Dow
Genre: Horror, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: It takes a complex pattern of events to make a killer, take Brian Langston (Michael Qeliqi and Jonathan Tysor) for instance: was it because this father (Thom Matthews) did not love him enough? Or was it because he was smothered by his mother (Elizabeth Keener)? Perhaps it was their decision to take on a project by adopting a sister for him, a girl he completely rejected out of sheer jealousy and suspicion of his parents' motives? Whatever the reasons, it was clear he was on the wrong track from an early age, and with no friends to guide or even support him, what could he do but begin a lifelong killing spree?

There was one hope, and they were the various therapists he met along the way - however, what if they did more harm than good? The issues around mental health were thrown into sharper relief as the twenty-first century drew on, especially in the West, where there was a growing epidemic of illness that needed treatment and did not always get it. This appeared to be preying on writer and director Barry Jay's mind, possibly because he had suffered his own troubles growing up and into adulthood that informed the scenario here, but that was not necessarily a good thing. There was so much point-scoring going on that the suggestion was he was using his movie as a therapy session himself, conducting his own analysis on himself and putting the blame for the woes of the mentally ill in general on the psychiatric community.

There's no doubt that some psychiatrists are better than others, same as any profession, medical or otherwise, but to accuse them of fostering murder was a bit much. Not that Jay was planning his own homicidal spree, and he was using the horror genre to get this out of his system so of course there would be (fictional) blood, but the impression was that he really needed to step away from the keyboard and think about what he was doing here. Actually, what he was doing was ripping off Lynne Ramsay's adaptation of We Need to Talk About Kevin, a well-regarded but if anything even more problematic tale of a killer in his younger years, problematic because its half-arsed psychology was taken seriously by many people who should have known better.

To see that it had spoken to the filmmaker here was troubling, and indicated some self-esteem issues at best, though there was some comfort in knowing he was able to channel his insecurities into a B-grade horror flick. If only there were not the pretensions to authenticity. You could split Killer Therapy into three sections, first, the early life where the arrival of a tiny little girl incites Brian to take out his frustrations with violence, second, the high school bullying that triggers the murders all over again, and third, we went full on Friday the 13th with his massacre (it was no coincidence Adrienne King, star of that movie, showed up here as a counsellor, and P.J. Soles of Halloween was there too). It was accurate that the horror genre can provide much comfort for the socially hampered.

Its depiction of the misfits of this world triumphing was a sympathy with those who don't fit in, after all. But, unfortunately that was not so much the case here. There was an unmistakable anger towards the professionals that had allowed Brian to go as far as he did, yet also a sense that he was entirely justified in slaughtering people who had slighted him (there was even a therapist who sexually abused him!), and that did not sit well with the allusions to the horror flicks of the director's childhood that he compared this to. It left you concerned for him, and for anyone who strongly related to this - plenty of folks have terrible childhoods, but plenty of them grow up to be thoroughly decent because they do not want what happened to them to happen to anyone else, and this film did not seem to be aware of that, or even acknowledge this vital note of hope. You could be accused of taking it too seriously, but that is the way it came across as wanting to be approached. Music by Ethan Arlook and Kevin DeKimpe.

[Killer Therapy is available on Sky & can be bought on Amazon at this link. Click here.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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