The Twelfth Annual After Dark Film Festival
Directed by Navin Ramaswaran
Poor Agnes casts Lora Burke as the title character, an arrogant serial killer whose murderous rampage is threatened by an inquisitive private detective (Robert Notman's Mike) - with the narrative detailing the rather unusual relationship that eventually forms between the two disparate figures. There's little doubt that Poor Agnes fares best in its slow-moving yet rather promising opening stretch, as filmmaker Navin Ramaswaran, working from James Gordon Ross' screenplay, effectively establishes the initially-likable protagonist and her small-town environs - with the promising vibe heightened by the palpable tension inherent in Agnes and Mike's first few scenes together. It's only as the film proceeds into its progressively meandering midsection that one's interest begins to wane, with the bulk of the second act revolving around the mind games and torture inflicted on Notman's hapless (and not entirely sympathetic) protagonist (ie it's just stale and repetitive stuff, ultimately). The movie's less-than-compelling vibe is compounded by the admittedly unexpected turn in the central characters' dynamic, as it becomes more and more difficult to comfortably swallow the weird Stockholm Syndrome-fueled bent of Agnes and Mike's bond. It is, as such, not terribly surprising to note that Poor Agnes fizzles out long before arriving at its underwhelming conclusion, which is a shame, certainly, given that the movie does boast plenty of overtly positive attributes (eg Burke's striking work as the psychotic main character).
My Friend Dahmer
Directed by Marc Meyers
An absolutely interminable misfire, My Friend Dahmer chronicles the teen years of notorious serial killer/cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer (Ross Lynch) - with the movie following the oddball loner as he befriends a trio of goofy outsiders. Filmmaker Marc Meyers delivers an excessively familiar story that’s rife with eye-rollingly hackneyed elements, as the director, working from his own screenplay, seems to have mostly culled the movie’s narrative directly from a template for stories of this ilk - with the film’s coming-of-age atmosphere touching on virtually every cliche one associates with the genre. The punishingly uninteresting and uninvolving vibe is compounded by a glacial pace and star Lynch's hopelessly flat performance, with, in terms of the latter, the actor delivering wooden work that boils down to bad posture and a blank stare. There’s nothing here to set My Friend Dahmer apart from a myriad of other similarly-themed dramas, and it's never not painfully clear that were it stripped of its Jeffrey Dahmer angle, the movie would hardly be worth mentioning at all. The degree to which this mess is unable to even partially get inside its subject's head is nothing short of astonishing, with the end result an almost entirely worthless trainwreck that has little of interest to say about a fascinating figure.