OK, this is uncanny. There's this little $30,000 film called "Hunting Humans" about a serial killer who never gets caught because he never has a motive for his killings. It's been sitting on my desk for a couple of months, and I finally got around to looking at it. Talk about the room closing in on me.
The killer always carefully cases the patterns of his victims. He blends easily into the population. He stays three steps ahead of the police. Starting to sound familiar?
And it's the first film of a low-budget filmmaker ... in Maryland.
Obviously, it existed long before the current terror shootings in the Washington area, and thank God writer/director Kevin Kangas didn't make his serial killer a sniper -- although he IS a firearms expert. You can't watch it, though, without getting this little chill -- it's told from the serial killer's point of view, and you see both his public persona and his private planning. He's unstoppable because he looks so normal.
The twist in "Hunting Humans" is that, after being so proud of himself for understanding victim patterns and never getting caught because he's able to predict the moment of maximum vulnerability, his own pattern is figured out -- by another serial killer! One night "Aric Blue," the killer, goes to murder a projectionist at a suburban theater he's been watching for weeks, but when he gets there, the projection booth is already full of spattered blood, the dead body of the projectionist, and a hand-lettered sign: "I've Got Your Pattern."
The game is on, with the killer growing increasingly nervous, yet determined to kill the other human-hunter before he himself is killed. The story twists and spirals several times in the very accomplished script of Kangas, and this might be one of those movies that's actually helped by the low production values. It looks so grainy and gray it's the kind of home movie a serial killer would make about himself.
Rick Ganz, who co-produced the flick but also stars as the killer, has the steely dead eyes of a psycho and a perfect job -- as a mortgage broker who spends all day on the phone soliciting leads. It's just the kind of job that would create familiarity with real estate, credit histories and computers -- all of which, as it turns out, are prime tools for anyone who wants to kill without being detected. He's a handsome guy (of course), athletic (comes in handy when they struggle), and not much warmer in public than he is in private. Of course, this makes him the "strong, silent type" so attractive to men and women alike.
I can't get into the plot without giving too much away, but suffice it to say it's a cat-and-mouse game between two sociopaths who start out competing for body counts and end up monitoring each other's movements for the expected showdown. It doesn't disappoint.
This is an extremely well directed film that has already won some B movie awards, and once again it cements the reputation of the Baltimore area as the place where all the most interesting low-budget work is happening these days. Let's hope somebody picks it up and gives it the wide distribution it deserves. Probably oughta wait a few weeks, though. Real life is too scary right now.
Let's check those drive-in totals:
Fifteen dead bodies. Four breasts. Reverse "Psycho" scene (he's IN the shower). Stomach-gouging. Codeine egg-injection. Strangulation. Skull-clubbing. Body-torching. Multiple throat-slitting. Bullet to the brain. Gratuitous shirt-ripping, with chest mutilation. Kung Fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Rick Ganz, as the sociopathic beefcake narrator who likes to lie nekkid on his bed planning his next move, for saying "You've gotta have rules to do what I do" and "I'm natural selection personified, man -- I'm a force of nature"; Bubby Lewis, as the scuzzy private eye; and Kevin Kangas, the finest filmmaker in Glen Burnie, Md., for doing things the drive-in way.
Joe Bob says check it out.
"Hunting Humans" Web site: marauderproductions.com/hunting.htm.
To reach Joe Bob, go to www.joebobbriggs.com or e-mail him at JoeBob@upi.com. Snail-mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas, 75221.