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Killing Jar, The (DVD Review)

22 Feb, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Street 2/22/11
$27.97 DVD
Rated ‘R’ for strong language and strong bloody violence.
Stars Michael Madsen, Amber Benson, Danny Trejo, Harold Perrineau.

With box art depicting veteran character actor Michael Madsen — forever typecast as a homicidal madman since Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs — aiming a high-powered shotgun at the audience, it’s safe to assume above-average thriller The Killing Jar is not a love story.

In fact, some viewers might actually appreciate that Madsen’s drifter character, Doe, leaves no doubt early by returning to low-rent Copal Grill and blasting away in savage glory a meddling sheriff officer and the greasy-spoon’s proprietor (Danny Trejo).

Surviving patrons — spearheaded by hapless waitress Noreen (Amber Benson from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) — include out-of-town businessman Smith (Harold Perrineau from “Lost”) and trucker Hank (Kevin Gage). Together, they sit huddled in a corner of the diner pondering their fate as Doe methodically morphs into crazed judge and executioner.

That Doe might be the killer wanted by authorities for eliminating an entire family (including kids) nearby almost seems besides the point as writer-director Mark Young painstakingly ups the ante through the visual detail produced by blood spatter, physical impact and brain matter from a point-blank gunshot blast to the head.

The film’s deliberate visuals, sounds (dripping faucets, ticking wall clock), pooling blood and rising body count are eerily reminiscent of Joel and Ethan Coen’s excellent early effort Blood Simple.

And similarly to their No Country for Old Men or M. Night Shyamalan’s Devil, there often is no redemption to be found.

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