Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer Movie Review

Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer
Review by Jason Lees, MoreHorror.com

Damn. Every now and then you get a little reminder of just how good movies can be. I mean really good. Not ‘fun’ or ‘enjoyable’. I’m talking damn good. Lately we’ve been settling for fun little flicks, movies that are worth your time and you can recommend to friends are all around us, but every so often, you come across one that reminds you just how powerful cinema is. Yes, I dug HUMAN CENTIPEDE and SERBIAN FILM. I thought they were both shocking in their own way, but neither can hold a stinky in poor taste candle to HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER when it comes to pure disturbing and unsettling heebie fucking jeebies.

HENRY is NOT a thrill ride. HENRY is NOT a movie you laugh at when it’s done like a roller coaster. There is no group hug with your friends for having sat through it. There is no over the top mad scientist or visual pun so extreme you have to giggle through your bile. No. HENRY is disturbing. HENRY is the real thing when it comes to extreme film making. Not because it shows you something that’s never been put up on the big screen, but because it makes you feel something that no other movie has ever made you feel.

Watching HENRY, you feel dirty. Not like SERBIAN FILM (which should make you feel dirty for watching it), but because you feel like you’ve just spent an hour with the sickest man on earth. It’s the same feeling you get when you come across a stranger and for no reason just want to walk away, cross the street, run. It’s a natural flight instinct you get when the person you’re standing beside just makes your skin crawl. HENRY captures that feeling, captures it without being overt or in your face. It’s not a monster you see on the screen. It’s a sense of repulsion you feel crawling up your neck.
Damn, I love this damn movie.

HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, directed by John McNaughton and written by McNaughton and Richard Fire, is the somewhat fictionalized story of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. Lucas confessed to over three hundred murders after his arrest and whether or not you can believe him isn’t the point. The man was sick in a very clinical sense. Henry, in the movie, might be based on the real man, but his story is all his own. Names and events might run parallel to reality, but the sense that the film is its own truth is there in every frame. In the movie, we follow Henry for a week and walk in his footsteps. Yes, it’s horrifying, but not in a slasher movie way. This truly is a portrait of a man, a man who just happens to kill anyone that he feels he can get away with offing.

Some say that this makes HENRY something other than a horror film, that it’s something more. Bullshit. HENRY is what a horror film should be, what it can be when it tries to really tap into the emotions of the audience. I always find it sad when people take an exceptional horror flick and, simply because it succeeds, label it a drama. HENRY is Horror. HENRY is as good as it gets.
It makes me long for the days when something like this played in theaters. HENRY is one of those films on my list of movies that I truly regret never seeing in the theater.

It’s powerful stuff even today watching at home, but I’ll always wonder what it would have been like to see with an audience. Freak out scenes are always good with a crowd, and I love a good 3D scarefest with popcorn flying around me, but I’d love to sit in a dark theater as HENRY’s final credits come up and find out what it feels like to walk out with a bunch of strangers, wondering which of them is the Henry in the mob.

Like I said, I love this damn movie.

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