One of the more curious entries in the profile-of-a-serial-killer pantheon, They Pushed Him Too Far subcategory. Shot in Denmark1, CRAIG suffers from some typical, direct-to-video maladies, including time-padding longueurs in the dialogue, sloppiness in the audio mix (room tone, guys — record it, catalog it, cut it in), and an occasional lack of imagination when it comes to a limited budget (a coma victim winds up in a hospital where the staff seemingly feels no need to hook her up to all that pesky monitoring equipment).
Director Sønderholm, who also turns in a credible performance as the titular murderer, travels a pretty stock route in tracing Craig’s descent into homicide: There’s the demeaning job as a pool boy, complete with ball-cutting bitch of a boss (who, for some reason, doesn’t shitcan the guy after he barges unannounced into the women’s shower2); there are abusive parents; degrading visits to strip and pick-up bars; and, of course, the failed attempt at a romantic relationship. All this is telegraphed as if edged in neon — not the best way to break away from the pack.
And yet, look closely, and there are glimpses of the director courting a more compelling muse. The cinematography is quite good — d.p’s Jan T. Jensen and Søren Ulfkjær deliver some interesting compositions and know how to generate atmosphere. There’s a good, creepy conversation Craig has with his deceased, child-molester father — with a bit of well-done, decaying flesh make-up for dear ol’ Dad — and an off-kilter moment when Lloyd Kaufman shows up as the personification of Craig’s homicidal rage.1
Sønderholm isn’t afraid of stocking the proceedings with a fair amount of full-frontal nudity (clearly one advantage of shooting outside of the U.S. — whatever the director’s shortcomings elsewhere, this one feature makes him my bestest friend ever), or of having Craig commit one, final act that a number of viewers will find patently offensive, but that I appreciated for its willingness to push past the bounds of propriety. All of this doesn’t manage to rescue the proceedings from the been-there-rented-that crowd, but does suggest there’s more to Mr. Sønderholm than just a desire to go through the motions.
CRAIG (Cetus Productions, 2008; 101 mins.) Directed by Kim Sønderholm. Cast: Kim Sønderholm; Trine Stårup; Ian Burns.
- Original text mentioned a Danish language version. No such version exists.
- Original text cited an additional scene not set at the swimming pool.