I love being given the job of watching a film, which is so new, fresh and nothing like what is being circulated on the big screen. From the moment I started watching the opening of 'Benny Loves Killing', I was hooked. The story itself has a mysterious quality about it, which just made me stare at the screen, and I couldn't look away. The camera lured me into Benny's eyes, making me wonder what was running through her mind to make her appear to be in constant deep thought. There are not many directors or actors that can pull of such close and intimate camera angles and not make me feel claustrophobic. But director Ben Woodiwiss captured Benny's vulnerability through her eyes, and I felt every natural emotion that I was supposed to. Ben Woodiwiss really brought out the best of Benny through actress Pauline Cousty. Ben managed to capture the story without dialogue a lot of the time. You didn't need dialogue, you just needed the emotions, the musical score, the silence.
Here is the run down. Benny is at film school, and she is working on a film within a film, as part of an assignment, yet doing a practical assignment was not what was required of her, and she may lose her funding. She wants to get her point across the real way. she wants to portray the visuals because actions speak louder than words. Benny doesn't want to be like everyone else, and she really isn't. She is quiet, a thinker, socially awkward. But underneath that is a film maker and horror film lover waiting to burst out of the shades of grey, black and white and become something with colour. You see this colour come through when she snorts cocaine, tries on different coloured wigs, and wears unusual make up. She is trying to live and breathe her role. But what is this role? Her relationship with her mother played by the amazing Canelle Hope, is a strained one. But it is natural, you really do believe that they are mother and daughter. There is honest emotions in every look they give to one another and in every word they say. It feels authentic. Sometimes watching Pauline and Canelle together on screen, didn't feel like I was watching a film; it felt real. As the film progresses, we notice Benny having surreal dreams, which slowly unfold, and what is great about these dreams is that you can interpret them anyway you like. And as the dreams continue, so does the downhill spiral of her life.
There are two scenes in particular I have to mention because they are so vital to film making and it was so interesting that point being made in a film. There is a scene that Benny is shooting and she makes a point of making sure that the camera has to be on the victim in the film, and she says this interesting quote and I have never heard it been said like this ever so here it is; “When you’re watching a horror film and the camera is in the eyes of the killer, who do you identify with? The mind of the killer whose eyes you’re looking through or the girl you’re looking at? Both? You sympathise with the girl you’re looking at not with the eyes you’re looking through, that’s the kind of way it works”. That is so spot on, and correct because when do you ever really see the eyes of the killer. You see the victims, because you want to see her last seconds of life on screen, you want to see her last breath. The killer is completely irrelevent in those scenes, it is all about the victim. Which then brings me onto a scene a little later in the film. Benny is at a party and she is in the bathroom and she gives some cocaine to an unseen man. The camera is right behind him so all you see is the back of his head and Benny's face. At first things seem fine when she shares the cocaine with him, but then he threatens her and I think he rattles something inside of her at this point. While watching this scene you think back to the other scene where she is explaining how we have to sympathise with the victim through the eyes of the killer. And now we are sympathising with her. You don't see this man's face, you just hear his voice, and it is very calm. Seeing that scene just screamed Giallo for me. As a big Giallo fan, I get so excited when I see those kind of elements in new films, and this was done to complete perfection. I can't fault it. I think having being rattled up inside by this stranger, changed a course of action in her life and how she wanted to lead it. Does she want to continue her downward spiral or is she ready to let the confident person she has wanted to be, finally come out.
The camera work on this was nothing short of perfect, you can really feel the tone of the film and feel the characters emotions through each angle. It's as if each camera angle is personal, and brings out the personality of everyone, no matter how small or big their roles might be. In several scenes there isn't any music which I think is just as dramatic as having a musical score. In a lot of films silence can be awkward, whereas in this case, I can't imagine this film having an intricate self indulgent score, because sometimes that can be just as damaging to a film than anything else and it can be off putting. I overall enjoyed the story and loved where it went, and loved the journey I went on discovering more about Benny and her life and how she feels.
'Benny Loves Killing' is one of the best films I have seen of 2013. Big call right since there have been quite a few gems this year. But what this film did to me was suck me in from the beginning. It new exactly what it was, and where it was going, and it makes you think. The ending some might say is a 'cop out' because it isn't closed. But just because you don't have a closed ending, doesn't make the film any less brilliant. Having endings which make you think several things could happen, is a big risk. Especially for an independent film maker getting his foot in the door. I think it worked, for me there are so many answers that there could be, it was like a choose your own adventure type of story, and I totally loved the hell out of it. It's definitely an ending which not everyone will agree on with what happened to her, but at least it is a hot topic of discussion; how many amateur films with substance can do that? If any of my readers decide they do want to watch this and get the chance to, please do not be put off by the silence of dialogue in several of the scenes, it isn't meaning to be pretentious with the silence it's just trying to set the mood, and letting everything be about Benny and how we see the emotion she is feeling through her eyes. Ben Woodiwiss did a great job and really used his knowledge with the right tools and created something really detailed, strong and different. He is definitely a film maker to look out for in the future!