Review of “Kill The Engine”

ISA award-winning “Kill The Engine” is an excellent example of entertainment production, consistent in technical terms and perfectly effective for the effects it seeks.

Directed by Derek Frey (USA)

Kill The Engine

Kill The Engine

With 32 titles as a director in his résumé, between short films and documentaries, alongside the direction of Tim Burton Productions since 2001 and the production of dozens of other films, including “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” and “Dumbo” (the new remake of classic Disney musical), Derek Frey is a reference name in the film industry.

In this context, not surprisingly, ISA award-winning “Kill The Engine” is a high standard work in all levels, above all because of the challenges it had, namely turning a drama into a comedy, with no clichés and effectively, with a story of 10 minutes spent in a garage.

The plotline is simple: three broken men decide to kill themselves by carbon monoxide poisoning. But what can happen if the car fails to start? Gil Damon, Steve Kuzmick, and David Amadio are the three actors in duty to form this suicide group that does everything to get the car to work on behalf of their demise. And here begins the secret of the effectiveness of this “Kill The Engine” with brilliant performances of the trio based on a black humor text that does not give in to the easy joke. Neither the actors, who manage to put out an excellent rhythm and many subtleties of acting.

Kill The Engine

Kill The Engine

There is also the Derek Frey’s experience with a safe and highly competent cinematic approach. Fast shots, alternating essentially between close ups and mid shots, with a camera that infiltrates all the spaces available in this small set, not repeating itself, always looking for fresh point of views, capable of recording the subtleties of acting and participating in the action as an element of humor. Derek Frey’s technique is reflected yet in the excellent lighting and in a fast-paced editing perfectly suited to the film’s goals.

In fact, it is not easy to film in such a small space with three characters and a story of black humor that essentially lives on the dynamics of the dialogues and how they evolve so that a connection with the audience is established and viewers can laugh. Moreover, it is not a physical comedy, but mainly psychological, so the challenge is even greater: start with a dramatic element to do a caricature of it, the suicide decision that stumbles into an unexpected setback.

Derek Frey

Derek Frey

It is true that we know little about the three protagonists, the reasons why they want to commit suicide and what they can represent. The film does not give any clues, which may lead some to question the density of the characters, to question if they are real persons so that there is such an emotional connection with the audiences or if it is a mere caricature of a limit situation without no other narrative aspirations. It can be a relevant aspect for more demanding viewers. Still, this lack does not neutralize the fun of this 10-minute film.

“Kill The Engine” is, therefore, an excellent example of entertainment production, consistent in technical terms and perfectly effective for the effects it seeks.

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