REVIEW: Killer Concept (2021)

dir. Glenn Payne

Ideas are gold in film: if not fully fleshed out, a filmmaker is often left with empty characters and dull plot – the kiss of death, especially in horror. Killer Concept, from director / star Glenn Payne, explores the often-painful process of developing a story, centring on three creatives writing a horror movie based on a killer who is still on the loose.

Payne plays Mark, the unassuming but somewhat creepy ‘ideas’ man. Joined by Holly (Casey Dillard) and Seth (Coley Bryant) in the story-breaking process, his friends spend most of their time bickering over the minutiae whilst Mark struggles with the overall lack of insight into the killer’s motives and methods. Mark’s own proclivities are not hidden for long as he heads home to watch old musicals, eat cereal for dinner, and engage in an interesting pastime.

The dynamic between the three characters is well-developed, with Seth taking the role of the more arrogant director, while Holl – a true-crime author – struggles to reign his outlandish ideas into a cohesive narrative. Throughout the interactions and arguments, one of which ends in a gun being pulled, Mark nearly disappears into the wood grain, every now and again dropping little hints and suggestions as to how the killer may act with a shrug of his slouched shoulders.

More widely Mark struggles with inspiration in his life, and when he recognizes in Holly a sense of camaraderie they bond over deciphering the “true” intentions behind the killings – that the man isn’t a sexual deviant monster but more an artist intent on unravelling his own trauma, desperate to remove something painful from inside himself.

A dialogue-heavy horror comedy with a fantastic cast that recalls such recent hits as Scare Me and The Oak Room, Killer Concept proves that you really can hold a viewer’s attention with only a, well…killer concept.


Jerry Sampson

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