What makes a good Mystery/Crime Drama flick? Of late, most in the genre utilize the whole ‘Who did it?’ scenario… which is not a bad thing. Yet, Director Jon Keeyes (American Nightmare 2002, Code Name Banshee 2022) steps away from the much loved scenario for his latest film Cult Killer.
A dark and twisted Mystery/Crime type story, Cult Killer will be released in select theaters on January 19, 2024 through Saban Films. Breaking it down, it is about a private investigator who forms a dangerous alliance with the killer of her former mentor to uncover a small town’s dirty little secret. Simply enough, the cast itself is quite stellar; including Alice Eve (She’s Out of My League 2010, Men in Black 3 2012) as PI Cassie Holt, Shelley Hennig (Teen Wolf series, Unfriend 2014) as Jamie Douglas, Paul Reid (Raw series, The Ritual 2017) as Rory McMahon, and last, but not least, the great Antonio Banderas (Desperado 1995, The Mask of Zorro 1998) as Mikhail Tellini.
Starting it all off is a Bond-esque scene where Tellini (Banderas) walks into a bar and has a few quick lines with the bartender about some of the patrons before whipping out a camera and taking pictures. Then, just as Cassie Holt (Alice Eve) steps up to the bar to order more drinks, Tellini is confronted by the now upset photographed patron. Holt interferes with Tellini’s little problem and returns to the table she had been sitting at and has a short chat with the guys she had been drinking with before leaving. Tellini, sensing trouble from the guys that Holt had told not to follow her, gets up to follow her and expects to stop something bad from happening. However, Tellini is confronted by Cassie Holt… who can clearly handle herself. A relationship is formed at this point in the film, however, not in a romantic way.
Cult Killer utilizes great camera techniques; which includes the angles, and even a split screen featuring Holt and Jamie Douglas (Hennig). The split screen feature in particular stands out, because it does not give much away during the conversation of what is going on in the background. Furthermore, flashbacks are used often in Cult Killer, but in a very effective manner. Overall, they enhance the audience’s ability to understand certain relationships and things that are mentioned throughout dialogue.
This all in mind, there are other events that transpire within the first ten minutes of the film which are not all too shocking to witness happen. Building on this, the particular early turning point in the film establishes Douglas’s nefarious motives… or so it seems. It also solidifies the need for Cassie Holt. Going back to the idea of relationships, they are quite uniquely developed throughout Cult Killers, and this makes the film standout.
In the end, with its twists and turns, Cult Killer offers something different to the Mystery/Crime genre. Having a way of keeping you on the edge of your seat, Cryptic Rock gives Cult Killer 5 out of 5 stars.