'The Killing of Jacob Marr' Movie Review

The Killing of Jacob Marr
by Jason Lees, MoreHorror.com

Commitment. That’s the magic ingredient that can take a collection of shots and images and transform them into a film. Commitment to the idea, to the vision, and to the overall production. I’ve seen huge budgeted flicks with mind blowing effects that I don’t for a moment believe just fall apart on screen for me. And I’ve seen movies that cost less than a decent used car come out of nowhere and just own me.

Unfortunately, they’re pretty rare, and not due to any lack of talent out there, it just seems that the "no budgeter" has such an uphill battle when it comes to luck that finding a true success story is like finding that aforementioned ‘good’ used car.

The Killing of Jacob Marr” is that winning lottery ticket. That gem sitting on the car lot. This little flick works and runs better than it has any right to.

What we’re treated to story wise is really nothing new. Anyone who’s seen EVIL DEAD or CABIN FEVER knows the basic set up. A group of friends go off to a cabin in the woods and come face to face with --fill in the blank here--. The magic comes not with reinventing the wheel, but with the execution. Sam Raimi and his camera work is the star of EVIL DEAD and Eli Roth and his homage heavy shot list made CABIN FEVER memorable. Here, it’s director/writer Brad Rego’s absolute trust in his actors’ ability to sell the script that makes THE KILLING OF JACOB MARR work so well.

Rego wrote a smart script about smart characters. They didn’t snub their noses at the genre conventions (characters do go off alone, and they also do some of the cliché things they’re required to do) but rather than come off forced, here they come off logical and necessary. Characters do NOT however do anything stupid just to advance the plot. When they run off into the woods, it’s not because the clock on the wall says it’s time for Character B to die, but because that character is reacting to the situation the way he or she would.

This isn’t the first movie to ever have smart characters in it, but this is one of those surprising ones where you don’t expect it. Once again, that no budget status tends to help out, luring the viewer into thinking they know what to expect, to get ready for stiff acting and forced dialogue. Not here. The clever script is perfectly handled by a cast that knows the line between humor and camp. There’s not a false note hit, and there are times that you honestly laugh and feel all warm and fuzzy along with the friends up on screen. That’s a happy surprise.
It’s that commitment to the project that comes across. Rego’s good, and does a lot with just a little money, but he surrounded himself with a cast and crew just as committed as he was. That’s priceless.

This is not a gorefest, and some of the makeup just doesn’t work, but that’s not the point of The Killing of Jacob Marr. This is an indie flick that knows its strengths, knows when to take the turns, and knows when to pull back. No, it’s not perfect, but it deserves a shot, and it’s definitely worth seeing.

The Killing of Jacob Marr raises the bar for teamwork cinema. Follow this cast, this crew, because there’s a lot going on behind the camera here, most of which finds its way to the screen. Damn, I love being surprised like this.

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