Movie Review: A “True Crime” mockumentary harpooned too soon — “Killer Whales”

“Killer Whales” is “true crime” mockumentary about the making of a documentary whose aim it to find the killer of a “bad boy” artist from among the four likeliest suspects.

It pokes fun at not just the genre, but the nature of “reality” on such “gotcha” enterprises and the sorts of people who often make them.

Not every investigative documentarian is Errol Morris or Alex Gibney. But everyone in Hollywood is a “type” which this picture sets out to lampoon.

Why was this artist murdered? For his apartment, of course. L.A’s housing crisis is the bizarre organizing principle of what I hesitate to label “the narrative,” because that a Screenwriting 101 disaster for the ages.

What it plays as is a movie about making a movie which recreates — half-assed “Rashomon” style — the events of the night of the murder with “the real suspects,” save for a couple who are played by the naive creator and producer of the doc, who dons dresses and makeup to portray them.

For the artist hilariously (cough cough) named Daveed Hackney, “I wanted Richard Dreyfuss,” turtle-necked doofus Donny Wunder (Wyatt Bunce, who also scripted this) complains. “I got his son, Harry.”

That’s the last thing we can accept as fact in this stumbling, clumsy struggle to not come off as the efforts of rank amateurs. Except again, Harry Dreyfuss is playing the artist in the “recreations” of “real” artist, who is played by Niel Kennedy.

The whole movie is this maddening jumble of players, players playing players, “found footage” and “new” interviews, NONE of which adds a single laugh to the picture.

A snide producer/money man (Neal Bledsoe of “Shameless” and “Ugly Betty”) won’t let Donny Wunder direct the documentary he’s dreamed up, even though Donny assures us that “I watched Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos.’ How hard could it be?”

So they hire Francis Falconi (Greg Vrotos), an ulfiltered, lazy rageaholic who doesn’t even bother to read the pitch before he takes the meeting. He doesn’t try to hide his contempt for documentaries or the “f—–g joke” Donny in his profane rages to his agent and anybody else within earshot.

Perfect guy to “grill” suspects, trip them up with his cleverly-conceived questions. Francis asks “I blade for Christ” roller-blading preacher T-Blade (Michael Cognata) “If you did it, if T-Blade DID murder somebody, what would T-Blade do?”

The stunningly-convoluted “frame” for this “story” is that the film was abandoned a couple of years before, and Donny, screaming Francis and others are interviewed in the fictive present to show the footage, talk about why it was abandoned and take one last stab at finding the real killer. Donny won’t let the project go. Francis supposedly “found Jesus” in the intervening years.

That’s not funny. That goes for almost the entire film, pretty much every scene — from the “splatter test” where Donny and Francis try to determine what real blood looks like and how it sprays about in a gory murder — to the screwy characters, like D & D-playing suspect Squire Naljaimon (Anthony Carrigan of TV’s “Barry”) or the spirit -guide Klara (Kristin Couture) lands like a rotten cantaloupe dropped from a great height.

Splat.

All this incompetently-handled “complexity” in the way the story is told is just a disastrous distraction for how inept the entire enterprise is.

Shockingly, a movie about a movie that was abandoned, mid-production, turns out to be a movie that should have been abandoned mid-production.

Rating: unrated, violence, profanity

Cast: Wyatt Bunce, Greg Vrotsos, Kristin Couture, Michael Cognata, Anthony Carrigan and Harry Dreyfuss.

Credits: Directed by Willow Hamilton, scripted by Wyatt Bunce. Magpie Productions — self-distributed

Running time: 1: 24

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.