by Chris Banks
Producers Bob Portal and Travis Stevens’ introduction for this raucous Russ Meyer-esque throwback guaranteed, absolutely guaranteed, a subversion of gender norms and a slick commentary on sexism. At the end of ninety, almost exclusively ghastly minutes of tits, bums and run of the mill exploitation, you genuinely wonder if the earnest forward from its producers was a cynical bait-and-switch upon the festival audience, or if they actually think 68 Kill, an infantile and crass piece of cinema, is doing anything to subvert the male gaze and address misogyny in cinema.
It’s such a “have its cake and eat it” movie, full of casual sexism dressed up as self-deprecation, you really do wonder if everyone collectively took leave of their senses or, if faced with a finished product that so obviously hates all women, they’ve tried to dress this woman-hating wolf up in progressive sheep’s clothing.
Matthew Gray Gubler makes an admirable fist of it in the main role of Chip, a wormy little wreck of a man who ekes out a living draining septic tanks while his girlfriend Liza (AnnaLynn McCord) is away sucking off the local laird for money. Tired of their lot, she decides to rob her sugar daddy of the 68,000 dollars she knows he keeps in his safe, bringing Chip along for the ride. A ham-fisted robbery goes wrong leaving a couple of people dead and Chip and Liza fleeing the scene with a half-naked woman in the boot of their car.
The selling point and attempt at subverting genre tropes lies in the fact that Chip is a spineless masochist who gets frequently knocked about by his girlfriend and verbally and physically dominated by women. Seeing him whimper as repeated females order him about and smack him around the head would be good enough if it weren’t for the fact that the whole thing watches like a 14-year-old boy’s wet dream. The amount of nonsensical, off the cuff chauvinism blended into the violence and comedy, makes you almost start to believe that some twisted attempt at surreal dream logic is being undertaken.
Sure, Chip is wreck who gets dominated by every woman he meets, but those women also tearfully beg for his acceptance and, on a number of occasions, his dick. Three quarters of the female characters in the movie are literally prostitutes, confiding in Chip about their hellish lives and desperately seeking his approval. Naturally, Chip fucks most of them or is forced to engage in some pseudo-sexual power-play; not for their own gratification but, you suspect, that of writer/director Trent Haaga.
68 Kill seems so desperate to subvert norms and place power in the hands of its female characters, but it completes a full 180 degrees and does little more than parade a gaggle of half-naked, broken women with insatiable sexual appetites in front of you; while the whole world revolves around the male protagonist.
Like a “My First S&M” daydream with added swearing, 68 Kill is infantile and annoying. Does anybody really think this is striking a blow for gender politics? No, it’s not. Grow up.
Dir: Trent Haaga
Scr: Trent Haaga
Starring: Matthew Gray Gubler, AnnaLynn McCord, Alisha Boe, Sheila Vand, Sam Eidson,
Prd: David Lawson Jr, Bob Portal, Travis Stevens
DOP: Needham B. Smith
Music: James Griffiths, Haim Frank Ilfman
Runtime: 93 minutes