Being a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanboy is quite the challenge. There are endless tasks to complete as a superfan of that series. So much Canon to go through head is going to explode! You get attached to these actors and the characters they portray. The reason why I’m going to be gracing all of you with a review today is because yesterday I did something any Buffy fan would do. I rented a seemingly terrible direct to DVD movie just because it stars Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Amber Benson!
Now, The Killing Jar is about as bad as you would expect it to be. It stars the King of the direct to video movie Michael Madsen. If you don’t believe me look at his IMDB page. He has starred in like one hundred movies all about the same lonely asshole, and none of them have been released in cinemas. So one would guess that my expectations would be through the roof for such a wonderfully unique film! And guess what! We get the same lonely, ear cutting off, sadistic, asshole character that Madsen always plays in this film as well. The big difference here though is that it has the lovely Amber Benson and really underrated actor Harold Perrineau (Guy that screams Waaalt from LOST) to really keep things afloat. Now Madsen isn’t all that bad here. He’s just kind of predictable in every role that came after Reservoir Dogs.
So, for the plot of The Killing Jar we have sadface Noreen (Benson<3), a waitress who has been kicked in the face by life. She does the same boring job every single day of her incredibly insignificant life. She is married to a deadbeat husband (she should have married Willow), and she has no children to speak of even though she wants some. She is working in what seems like just another day at the Machete Café (did I mention that Danny Trejo also stars) and then we hear on the radio that a family has been murdered. Oh noes. After we hear this we have a tonal shift. The film goes from Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore to Manhunter. We get to meet a few new characters like Dixon (Waaaalt) a hillbilly guy and Barney Phife (played by the guy that gets his throat slashed by Otis in The Devil’s Rejects). Then Madsen shows up and everyone suspects him of killing that family, because he’s Michael fucking Madsen and he looks like someone that would do something like that. So after Madsen sits there for a while the cop goes up and asks him some questions. Madsen doesn’t take too kindly to that so he shoots the guy. At least it was a faster death than the one in The Devil’s Rejects. Madsen takes over the bar and we are now knee deep in a Nick Cave song. Madsen suspects either Walt guy from Lost or our hillbilly of killing that family. Because Michael Madsen wants revenge. He doesn’t take kindly to people killing families or something like that. Well one by one people get shot, mysteries unravel and credits roll. And it goes exactly how you would expect a direct to video movie would.
The thing about direct to video releases is that sometimes they can be really surprising and sometimes they are what you expect them to be. The Killing Jar isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever watched on a late Monday night with nothing to do. It has its little moments here and there of tension and thrills, but the sum of the parts doesn’t equal goodness. The reason why I took an hour and a half out of my day to watch this was for Amber Benson. I loved her so much on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it was nice for me to see her in something again. However, next time I may do better just to check out some of her own directorial work instead of something from the action section of my local video store.