Review by Paul Grammatico
There are times when a family can be severely fractured because of one bad apple in the family. An apple, while it is young, can have some internal development issues coupled with bruising from outside forces. When said apple turns rotten, it enters into the barrel that surrounds it and infects the other apples, thus the phrase, “one bad apple can spoil the barrel”. This may be true, but when you look harder, it can be an inversion of the proverb where the bad apples in the barrel can spoil the apple that it surrounds. Nothing could be closer to this than Killer Therapy, a film produced by Rellik and distributed by 4Digital Media where a child’s development grows out of control as nurture triumphs over nature.
Young Brian Langston (Jonathan Tysor) a young boy who is considered “different” by his pushy therapist mother Debbie (Elizabeth Keener) is faced with sharing his parents with an adopted sister Aubrey (Ivy George). Brian, angry at the lack of attention from his parents and jealous of Aubrey, he lashes out at her by teasing her and then biting her hard on the arm. Brian’s wounding of Aubrey brings about an even bigger laceration that inflicts the entire family. Debbie and Brian’s father John (Thom Mathews) have different views on how to handle Brian. John believes in corporate punishment while Debbie is dead set against it. Brian goes to several therapists but, instead of healing, they wreak more injuries to Brian’s fragile psyche. This gets pulled into sharper focus when an adolescent Brian (Michael Queliqi) who, after contributing to a car crash and committing matricide by seatbelt, has his first high school crush on Liz Gomez (Angelique Maurnae) much to the annoyance of an older Aubrey (Emma Mumford) and Liz’s boyfriend and local bully Blake Corman (Daeg Faerch). With Brian’s obsession of Liz and the anger of Blake’s torments, he lures Blake into the woods, drugs him, and then hangs him from a tree. Brian’s consequences of Blake’s slaying come in the form of more therapy which ranges from passive-aggressive to torturous extremes. When he is released from these traumatic elements, his homicidal tendencies go deeper and darker as he takes revenge on anyone (which is everyone) who ruined his life.
Producer, co-writer, and director Barry Jay provides a different spin on serial killings by turning the screw on the familial and therapeutic entities that provide the catalyst upon Brian’s mind. This well thought out tale provides substance, background, and, more importantly, a face to what can be, in some movies, a faceless killer. Mr. Jay gives us an unblinking journey into the processes of young Brian’s jealousy, anger, and acting out to adult Brian’s ruthlessness, vengeance, and homicidal fury. Where I think this movie really shines is that every scene feels like a test that Brian has to endure and, when each scene is over, you wonder how Brian will come out of it. When Brian fails at each test and his world creeps further and further into nihilism and explodes into multiple slayings, each more sadistic than the next, the sense of dread is amplified in each ongoing frame of the film.
The cast gives wonderful performances. Elizabeth Keener is terrific as the pushy, passive-aggressive, Debbie. Thom Mathews is perfect as the unpredictable and explosive John. Michael Queliqi is the stand-out with his performance of the awkward adolescent turned gregarious grown-up Brian. How he handles the clumsy killings of his adolescence and his growing homicidal confidence as he matures is done expertly.
I would strongly recommend to not to watch the trailer going into this movie as it doesn’t do it justice. Diving right in would be well advised. If you go in without expectations and have the endurance to get through this tale of extreme mental and murderous cruelty, Killer Therapy should leave you pleasantly surprised.
Watch now on Amazon Prime